"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"
The most famous line of the immortal play “Romeo and Juliet” – is the perfect romanticized love story that every teenager wants to re-live (minus the ending of course).
In 2021 I brought the story of Romeo and Juliet to Miami Art Basel.
My idea when I began this multi-year art project was to capture the magnificence and purity of this story… And transform the ending.
Romeo and Juliet, in the Western world, is often idolized as the meeting of perfectly matched lovers. What could be better? Haven’t we all fantasized about finding our ideal soul mate? Where sparks fly and everything melts into a perfect place?
That’s NOT what Romeo and Juliet is about!
Romeo and Juliet is a story between a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, over a few days, resulting in 6 deaths, including a double suicide. Toxic. But the immortal love story and meaning behind it is what sticks with us through the ages.
As a culture, we took the intense and passionate love story, full of deep meaning and beautiful verses, and almost “extracted” the good, and conveniently “ignored” the bad. The fact that they both tragically die at the end, by their own hand, so needlessly… isn’t what 6-year-old girls dress up for on Halloween in their pretty costumes.
Death of an Ego.
What if, instead of them dying at the end, tragically… something else could die, in its stead. Have you ever had a toxic relationship? One where you wanted to give them the world at any expense. Or even take it?
Has the object of your passions ever been so intense that nothing else mattered and you were prepared to burn your life to the ground in the white-hot pursuit of your desire? So did Romeo. And so did Juliet. And it ended tragically.
But what if something else could have been destroyed. What if, all the darkness, that holds us, humans, back from being the ideal version of ourselves… could be vanquished? What if instead of “The tragic death of the Star-Crossed Lovers” it was the death of an ego. The death of the darkness that drives us to insanity.
So I got started and re-imagined this immortal play from scratch.
In the play, Romeo meets Juliet, they meet and love in secret, they fall in love, they are stopped by their feuding families, and in the end, their attempts to elope and marry is defeated in a cruel twist of fate. The difference between life and death, eternal love and joy, and absolute misery come down to the lateness of a crucial letter that doesn’t arrive in time.
How many times have we succumbed to the dark passions of our own desires in the heat of the moment? An impulse of a night, darkening the rest of our lives?
What if though, the object of destruction instead of being ourselves, and the ones we love… what if the thing sacrificed, the thing destroyed was the darkness itself? Our ego, our most base inclination to decadent vice… what if that could be destroyed as surely as Romeo’s final act ended his short but violent life? Rather than a 3-day passion-fuelled whirlwind “romance” that ends in death, what if to truly find love, we must end our own darkness?
Our own ego. Our own pride. In order to live a life in love, with someone else?
This is what this series is about. The self-inflicted knife wound to the most destructive parts of our soul, to allow a true love story between us and our lover to blossom.
Who would we be if we could sever our commitment or even devotion to our weakest and most cowardly acts, and live a life unselfishly in love? Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was about the meeting of two doomed lovers, ending in death.
But what if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t died? What if the object pierced with their blade was their own childish ego? This is what my art series is about. The Metamorphosis we all have to go through with our love and life partner, the shattering of our own selfish darkness we ALL have to make, in order to actually find and keep true love in life.
The kind that lasts and leads to lives beautifully lived.