On Saturday, Actress Tilda Swinton (52) decided to sleep in a box. A glass box. At the MoMa.
Swinton is performing ‘the art of sleeping’ at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her one-person “art piece” surprised many over the weekend. Entitled “The Maybe”, it shows Swinton wearing a button down shirt and jeans, asleep on her side while enclosed in a glass box. Check out the photo here.
In a statement, MoMA said:
“An integral part of The Maybe’s incarnation at MoMA in 2013 is that there is no published schedule for its appearance, no artist’s statement released, no museum statement beyond this brief context, no public profile or image issued. Those who find it chance upon it for themselves, live and in real-shared-time: now we see it, now we don’t.”
As no schedule has been made public, no one knows when Swinton will show up next. Although it has been reported she may appear a few more times this year.
This isn’t the first time she’s performed this piece. Previously, Swinton did the same thing in a gallery in London in 1995 and in Rome in 1996.
But her piece has created quite a bit of Twitter activity as well as controversy. People are calling it “pretentious” and a “sleeping booty”, while others comment that it would really be more meaningful is she had chosen to sleep outside in a cardboard box – to share the plight of the homeless.
No doubt, the MoMa is a much better place to sleep than a cardboard box. But is that not her entire point? We don’t know when we’ll spot a celeb, so her surprise appearance makes total sense when seen in that light. In a culture obsessed with celebrity, we are used to staring at the famous and observing their lifestyle. Thanks to reality television, we can watch them eat, sleep and go through every mundane act imaginable. Some, like the Kardashians, choose to live and profit from allowing us to look inside their (controlled) fishbowl.
Imagine for a minute if a different celeb – say, Kim Kardashian – was inside the glass box. Would be interesting to see the reactions then, no? Or, the reverse. What if it was an unknown woman sleeping there. Would anyone really stop and look – aside from trying to distract her from her sleep?
I sort of think that by allowing us to glimpse her while asleep, Swinton may actually be allowing us a glimpse inside ourselves instead.