Why That’s Not Me Sleeping In A Glass Box at MOMA

Ever since I heard about Tilda Swinton’s performance art piece “The Maybe”, which involves her sleeping in a glass box “on top of a mattress, with just her glasses and a carafe of water” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I’ve been wondering: why does she need her glasses? She’s just going to sleep, and maybe drink some water. She’s not even going to pour the water into a glass. She doesn’t have a book or a wristwatch, so she won’t be reading or checking the time. It’s possible that she’ll need her glasses when she leaves the box, but if that’s the reason, why doesn’t she also have keys, money, credit cards, and/or a phone?

The dishwasher is negotiable.

I’m currently putting together a proposal for a follow-on art installation that’s similar to “The Maybe” with a few key differences:

Instead of Tilda Swinton sleeping in the box, it will be me.

My cats will also be in the box. Unless they get bored, in which case they’ll need to be let out of the box, and then let in again when and if they want to return. It would probably be easiest just to install a cat door on the box. I’ll also need a couple cat wranglers to keep an eye on the cats and make sure they don’t leave the museum.

I can’t just lie down and fall asleep. I need to read for a while. I’ll need my Kindle in the box.

Seffie won’t let me go to sleep unless I play with her with the laser pointer first. So I’ll also need a laser pointer. I realize this isn’t ideal, but it’s unavoidable.

I usually run the dishwasher right before going to bed. I’ll need to hear dishwasher sounds each day until I fall asleep. If installing a  dishwasher on the museum floor turns out to be impractical, I might be able to get by with recorded dishwasher sounds, as long as they’re realistic enough and MOMA sends someone to my house to wash my dishes.

Instead of a carafe of water (which I assume is an open container, although I can’t find any pictures of Ms. Swinton’s carafe), I’ll need a bottle that closes; I’m concerned that if I have an open carafe in a small space, I might roll over in my sleep and spill it. Also my cats would probably drink out of it. You’ll notice I’m not insisting on a glass. I’m willing to rough it for the sake of my art.

I’ll need my cell phone. I’m not planning on making any calls, but I can use it to check the time or tweet about any unusual dreams I might have. Also, I plan to use it as an alarm clock. I don’t want to oversleep and get locked into the museum overnight. And I hate to sound overly mercenary, but if I’m being paid to sleep for seven hours, I don’t see why I should spend any extra time sleeping for free.

Some of these requests will take a bit of work on MOMA’s part, but I’m sure they can accommodate me. At least I’m not demanding to have my glasses in the box with me. That would be unreasonable.

35 thoughts on “Why That’s Not Me Sleeping In A Glass Box at MOMA

  1. I demand that you be contracted to perform this piece of art immediately. I do not watch art performed by anyone whose name sounds like a pronunciation mark.

  2. Ooooh I want to do some installation/performance art too. But for my set up I am going to need some wine, some brandy, high quality of course, and probably my PS3. Oh and a laptop too, I’ll need to update my blog. Or maybe I am just being too picky. But I defiantly need top shelf alcohol to make this happen. Definitely.

    1. You won’t be able to brush your teeth in the box, though. So your best strategy would probably be to stay awake and drink throughout the day.

  3. Rosie, my German Shepherd, would like to apply for the job of Cat Wrangler. She doesn’t have a lot of experience at this yet, but she’s a quick learner. Where can she obtain an application?

    1. I’m sure the MOMA people will love Rosie! She’ll just need to fill out a few simple forms and provide some character references who can attest she’s never been responsible for any property damage.

  4. Hmmm. Tilda isn’t getting many movie offers lately, huh? I wonder how much she’s getting paid for that piece of acting. These are the kinds of art pieces that prompt viewers to say, “You call that ART? A monkey could do that!” However, I’d never ever go to a museum to see a monkey lying on a bed in a glass box.

  5. I don’t think MOMA will go for your idea: they are already do the same exhibition with Swinton. If you want to make art, you have to push the boundaries. Why don’t you suggest an entirely different exhibit, like people watching you relaxing on a beach or watching TV?

  6. Will you be doing that ‘trapped in a glass box’ miming thing?! Miming you are trapped in a glass box while actually trapped in a glass box seems like it could be a thing. Wait… is that a thing? Maybe not.

  7. By Jove, you’re a demanding woman! Why not ask for a diamond back-scratcher and a Gucci toothpick while you’re at it. The dishwasher lullaby is quite interesting though. Ever thought of making an audiotape?

    1. Don’t tell anyone, but I am considering a “365 nights of dishwasher” project where I record my dishwasher every night for a year and put it all up on youtube.

  8. The Boy walked in just as I clicked to the pictures and said, “awww, she’s got CLOTHES on.” Because I was really just picturing a mattress and her glasses.

    Oliver would like to propose a special traveling exhibition – and by traveling he means in our living room – of a seven hour snuggle on the evil couch. We’ve been training.

    1. Ha! The shocking thing to me is that she’s wearing shoes, which seems like it would be really uncomfortable.

      Can I participate in the traveling exhibition? A typical weekend includes all possible permutations of snuggles involving two cats and one human.

    2. I also thought maybe there wouldn’t be clothes, because there was so much emphasis on just the glasses. And I thought maybe that was making a statement of some kind: The world can see all of me, but I can also see the world. This assumption is possibly because I don’t know anything about modern art.

          1. It would be “Modern Art Snow White”. No clothes, but still with the milky white skin and ebony hair. And she would be laying on her back and holding her flowers in front of her, possibly in a strategic location. The art statement would be something about “Innocence stripped bare.” But none of this makes any sense; I don’t know why I thought it would be Snow Whitish. It didn’t say there’d be flowers, and Snow White doesn’t wear glasses.

            1. That actually sounds like it could be, you know, a real art thing. And it also explains why you were thinking of Snow White instead of Sleeping Beauty (which raises the question: why am I awake at 4am when princesses get to sleep all the time?).

              1. Just those two. I’m pretty sure Cinderella and that princess who sold her baby to Rumplestiltskin had to stay up late doing chores. Being awake at 4 a.m. because you have to sweep the chimney or spin all that straw probably sucks.

        1. Dude, MOMA should give me an honorary degree in art. Because I’m pretty sure that’s where art degrees come from, right?

    1. Oh, good point about the toilet. (Can’t comment on the rest because I’m one of the approximately three women in the US who never watched Sex & The City).

        1. Brilliant. And if you’re anything like me, you can spend another twenty minutes trying to open one of those little packets of mustard.

  9. Think of the YouTube videos your adoring fans would make of the kitties comings and goings. It’s almost worth doing just for that. For you, not for me.

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