The Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton has featured in a live art piece in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where she slept in a glass box for around six hours. This is not the first time that Scottish born Swinton has revealed such an intimate nature of the human condition; she debuted the art installation at the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park in 1995. And the live art piece was repeated a year later at the Museo Barracco in Rome.
The art installation is called The Maybe, and was created in collaboration with Swinton’s friend Cornelia Parker. The piece features a large gallery room, in which the glass box is placed in a central position, with Swinton sleeping, dressed in a light blue shirt, dark trousers and lying on white bedding. Swinton’s pair of eyeglasses lay beside her in the box.
There is a brief description of the piece, which states: “The Maybe 1995/2013. Living artist, glass, steel, mattress, pillow, linen, water and spectacles.”
Visitors to the MoMA will not know when Swinton will be sleeping in the box, as there are no scheduled appearances on record, and the installation is being touted as an occasional feature.
MoMA said in a statement: “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.”
It is anticipated that the actress will participate in the one-person piece a further six times over the next year, all held in different locations at MoMA. When the live art piece was first debuted at The Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995, it attracted over 22,000 visitors and received a Turner Prize nomination.
A MoMA source told The Gothamist online magazine: “Museum staff doesn’t know she’s coming until the day of, but she’s here today. She’ll be there the whole day. All that’s in the box is cushions and a water jug. Tilda Swinton will be doing unannounced, random performance art pieces sleeping in a glass box in the museum,” the source added. “Today is the first performance. Each performance lasts the whole day the museum is open.” Swinton and her box are located near the ticket collectors today, but the box may be in different locations at other performances.
One visitor to the museum, Christine McKinney, who saw the actress, remarked to Gothamist: “I saw her, and I thought, ‘You’re an Oscar winner—what are you doing in a box?” McKinney’s works as a nurse and she worried about her sleeping in the box for so long: “I’m wondering is she medicated… doesn’t she need to go to the bathroom—is there a pad?—and did she dehydrate herself beforehand… I’m also thinking about blood clots.”
Another lady – Emma, did not realise who was actually in the box, and did not even think that it was a live person, Emma said: “She looks very serene. She looks like my mother napping.” But she admitted, “I thought it was a dude.”
The art piece has attracted some famous names, including James Franco and Michael Stipe, who popped in just before closing time.
More information available at moma.org
Featured image courtesy David M Benett/Getty