Tilda Swinton is an Academy Award-winning actress from Scotland. She’s been praised for performances in well-received films such as Burn After Reading, The Beach, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Deep End, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Michael Clayton. But it seems not everyone is so impressed with her latest performance: sleeping at MoMA.
Well, to be fair, it’s not exactly a new piece for her. She first performed “The Maybe” at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995 and again in 1996 at the Museo Barracco in Rome. A one-person performing arts piece, “The Maybe” features Swinton sleeping in a glass box for a full day. There is no schedule for the performances; Swinton simply shows up on the day she is going to “perform.”
“Museum staff doesn’t know she’s coming until the day of, but she’s here today. She’ll be there the whole day,” said a MoMA employee to Gothamist on Sunday, March 24th. Besides being unscheduled, each performance also takes place in a different location within the museum.
Viewers can stand mere feet away from the actress as she snoozes throughout the day. The placard next to the display shows her name, birthplace and birth year. The description for “The Maybe” (1995/2013) reads, “Living artist, glass, steel, mattress, pillow, water, and spectacles. Courtesy the artist.”
Does Swinton really sleep through the whole day? That is the question people are asking, since it truly does make a big difference. Sleep is one of our most vulnerable states, one where we are not conscious of the way we look, the position we are in, or even the noises we make. Swinton appeared in a handful of different positions on Sunday, which was her first performance at MoMA. Whether she is simply pretending or is actually asleep is up to the viewer to decide.