Actress Tilda Swinton makes art out of herself

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton (Credit: Tilda Swinton (Getty Images))

Actress Tilda Swinton, appearing asleep in a glass box, stunned visitors at the Museum of Modern Art Monday with the second run of her living-art exhibit.

Swinton slept the day away at MoMA as part of her performance piece, "The Maybe". Dressed in black pants, a dark-green shirt and beat-up sneakers, Swinton laid on a white bed and pillow while museum-goers gathered around her glass sleeping quarters.

Some visitors wondered whether they were looking at a sculpture or an actual person. Then, they read the title of the piece to discover that it was in fact a live woman -- specifically, a famous actress.

Swinton's exhibit comes on the heels of appearances in a Chanel ad and David Bowie's new music video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."

Fans of her film work appreciated her artistic capability.

"She's a very interesting artist -- clearly multidimensional," said Louise Shaw of Atlanta.

Daniel Krampikowski, a 27-year-old visitor from Germany, said the sleeping person before him looked familiar before confirming it was Swinton.

"She's such an amazing actor," he said.

"This is exhausting. I cannotdo this," he said of Swinton's public nap"I'm a little bit stunned.".

Swinton, who won an Oscar in 2008 for her role in "Michael Clayton", first performed "The Maybe" in London's Serpentine Gallery in 1995.

This year at MoMA, the piece will be performed at seemingly random times; the museum says there will be no published schedule. Swinton surprised museum visitors on Saturday when she set the exhibit up in the lobby.

Yesterday, Swinton moved the piece to a dark contemporary-art gallery on another floor, sharing the space with a Douglas Gordon exhibit of large projector screens showing videos of elephants lumbering around an empty white room, which added new context to the piece.

"The elephants are free" in contrast to Swinton, observed Jared Buhanan, a 30-year-old from Utah. "It's just a powerful connection."

Visitors seemed in awe of Swinton's ability to lie completely still.

"It doesn't look like she's breathing," said Karen Banducci, a 52-year-old from northern California.

While Swinton's living-art piece perplexed some visitors, Buffalo artist Michael Bryant said he found it fascinating.

"I appreciate all of this unusual, contemporary living art," Bryant said. "She's really a famous movie star. To see her do this is incredible."

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