Wednesday night, in front of a giant neon lightning bolt, Tilda Swinton gave a poetic speech to a room that included David Bowie. She spoke fondly about “every alien’s favorite cousin” and “that gingery boney pinky whitey person.” The occasion was the launch of the “David Bowie Is” retrospective at the V&A Museum in London. As if it wasn’t clear it was a night for freaks, she used the word seven times.
That must have worn her out because all day today she could be found resting at MoMA in New York, in an unannounced live display called The Maybe. For the entire day she reposed atop a mattress and pillow in a glass box, with her glasses and a jug of water next to her. Concerning the work, MoMA has only released this statement that reads, in part: “Tilda Swinton will be doing unannounced, random performance art pieces sleeping in a glass box in the museum…Today is the first performance. Each performance lasts the whole day the museum is open…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 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.”
Swinton has performed her sleep art before, first in 1995 at the Serpentine Gallery in London, and again at the Museo Barracco in Rome.