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Tilda Swinton takes an artful nap at U.S. museum

  • Tilda Swinton performs the art of sleeping in her one-person piece called “The Maybe,” in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

NEW YORK: It’s not the kind of performance that will win her another Academy Award, but actress Tilda Swinton certainly has people buzzing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

But keep quiet, please. She’s trying to sleep.

The award-winning actress has been engaging in a different kind of performance lately. She’s presenting a one-person piece called “The Maybe,” in which she lies sleeping in a glass box for the day.

The first performance was over the weekend, and the museum won’t say when she will return for six more performances. The Monday show drew a line of spectators.

Erwin Aschenbrenner, a bemused German, said it was “just what you’d expect to see at MoMA.”

The actress “is so pale and not moving in there that she looks like she’s dead,” said Robbie von Kampen, 20.

After about seven hours a day on a white mattress in the glass box – with only a carafe of water and a glass to get her through – Swinton can stretch and walk away – after spectators leave.

“This makes me think about myself, looking at her,” said Quinn Moreland, 20. “You don’t usually get to stare at somebody like this. It makes me self-conscious.”

“Yeah, it’s socially unacceptable,” von Kampen said. “It’s kinda creepy.”

No one, museum curators included, could say whether the mostly immobile Swinton is actually getting some sleep while people stare. She wore a pair of grubby sneakers, dark sporty slacks and a checkered shirt.

Swinton also starred in a glass box in 1995 at London’s Serpentine Gallery – seven days, eight hours a day – in an exhibition seen by 22,000 people. The next year, she repeated the spectacle at the Museo Barracco in Rome.

Tilda Swinton will return to New Yorks’ MoMA for six more performances of “The Maybe” but the museum won’t say when. See www.moma.org.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 29, 2013, on page 16.
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