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Tilda Swinton Is Thinking Inside The Box....Again.

Modern art often comes in unexpected forms, as do modern artists, and one Hollywood fixture has recently decided to return to her conceptual art roots. Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton, well known for her roles in both arthouse and mainstream movies, is reprising an art installment that she first participated in 18 years ago at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The exhibit is called "The Maybe" and consists of Swinton sleeping in a glass box for hours at a time while museum visitors stream through the gallery.

 

Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"

 

Last Saturday in New York, visitors to the Museum of Modern Art were able to watch Swinton lie on her side  with her arms crossed, apparently sleeping, in this bizarre and unexpected performance/living art piece.  In 1995, the actress spent a week on display in The Serpentine version of "The Maybe", but this time around, Swinton may be a bit too busy to lounge around for 7 days, what with her consistently brilliant acting career.

Although not on consecutive days, she is due to appear six more times at the MoMA, but there is no set schedule and the specific days will not be announced beforehand. These mysterious and unscheduled appearances might be an intentional tool that will add to the experience of "living art" in shared, real time with the performer and observer. Either that, or Swinton is just extraordinarily busy and will pop in when her schedule allows for a cheeky afternoon nap.

 

Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"

 

Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe"

 

Her "performance" is nearly identical to the one she performed almost two decades ago, and even her clothes, a pale blue shirt and jeans, are the same. Her hair isn't nearly as red these days either, but other than that, little about the piece has changed. The entire concept is charged with a voyeuristic undertone and a healthy dose of weird, two key ingredients that are often found in the most mind-boggling of modern art endeavors.

The most noticeable addition to the performance is a pair of glasses that are lying next to the lounging leading lady in this most recent incarnation of "The Maybe". Are the glasses a meaningful symbol of the artistic irony, because everyone is already looking at her? Or does Swinton, age 53, occasionally wake up to do crossword puzzles when there is a lull in the stream of museum guests, thus requiring a convenient set of reading glasses?

 

Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe" (1995)Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe" (1995)

 

Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe" (2013)Tilda Swinton - "The Maybe" (2013)

 

In the tangled web of modern art, it is difficult to understand why artists do the things they do, or what meaning they expect observers to find, but whatever the form or the function, this sort of art will always draw a crowd.

Is this the kind of performance/living art that makes you crave wine, cheese, and metaphysical arguments? For you New Yorkers, are you going to stake out the MoMA for the smallest sign of that eccentric, blond-haired Brit?  Or is this nothing more than Sleeping Bowie (Beauty?) in a re-hashed publicity stunt with little artistic merit or depth? Let me know what you think!

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