Performance Art for the Mature Woman

32313tilda1Going to the Museum of Modern Art in New York is on my list of “Top Ten Favorite Activities.”  MoMA houses my favorite painting “Starry Night” along with some memorable works by Matisse and Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.”  The latter has taken my breath away since I first saw it reprinted in a fifth grade art book.

But MoMA has new “art” in the way of performance art from Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.  She is best known in America as the British actress who won the 2007 Best Supporting Actress for “Michael Clayton.”

Her performance art, called “The Maybe”, features the blonde actress sleeping in a glass box.  The Twitterverse lighted up over her performance, according to MSNBC.

For those of us who are not long, lanky, lean, leggy and luscious, I will share “Performance Art for the Mature Woman,” baby boomer-style.  The audience is allowed in at this time, or they may wait for the movie version, entitled “The Bed and the Bedraggled.”

To prepare for the performance art:

Step A:

1.  Use the bathroom.  Get all the stuff out on the bathroom counter that you need to prepare.

2.  Put hair up in blue nylon headband. Remove make-up with Olay Regenerist Moist Towelette and apply mass quantities of cold cream like substance.   Brush teeth with Walgreens battery-powered toothbrush while singing the song you can’t get out of your head, “Patches, I’m depending on you, son” and enjoy the vibrato that results.  Now floss your teeth after digging through three or four drawers to find the floss.  Now wash your face with warm water and throw the now dirty washcloth in the bathtub with a fling (that’s part of the art.)

3.  Remove your clothing and put on one of your dead mother’s nightgowns that you could not bear to throw away a year ago when she died.  Take off your socks and look through your four sock drawers until you find the specially-infused aloe socks that are covered with tiny pink peace symbols.  Put them on.

4.  Use the bathroom.

Step B:

1.  Use the bathroom again.

2.  Find the bottle of melatonin and take one.

Step C:

1. Prepare the bed.

2.  Find your Nook, Nook cord, laptop, cell phone, current puzzle book, emory board, reading glasses, sleeping glasses (the old pair you wear to sleep in so you can see when you get up to go to the bathroom), extra blanket, recent issue of “Time” magazine, a journal, blue Sharpie, yellow highlighter, red ink pen, black fountain pen, Foot Joy catalog, L.L. Bean catalog, Great Courses catalog, and last Sunday’s New York Times and put all of them in the center of the bed.

3.  Get your eye drops and put them on the side table next to the bed.

4.  Use the bathroom.

5.  Go to the kitchen and get a big glass of ice water from the fridge and put next to your bed.

6.  Remember that you forgot to get two Clementines and go back to the kitchen and get the Clementines and two paper napkins, which you should place in the center of the bed.  Eat the Clementines; keep the paper towel.

Step C:

1.  Prepare the “Pillow System.”

2.  Pick up all the pillows that your husband and the cat have thrown on the floor, including the three bed pillows, two red round fuzzy pillows, the blue DogBone pillow, and the one that looks like a cylinder you draw in Geometry Class.

3.  Place all the pillows in the order you must have to sleep.

4.  Use the bathroom once again.

Step D:

1.  Get into bed by carefully adjusting the cat, pillows, and all your crap in the middle of the bed, pushing most of it to the side where your husband is snoring.  Use your eye drops and spill them all over yourself and the cat, who is not amused.

2.  Make a silly little hat for the cat out of the paper towel you used when you ate the Clementines.  Make a game of putting the hat on the cat and when he knocks it off, put it back on.

3.  When the cat is bored with the hat game, get up and go to the bathroom and throw the hat away.  Use the bathroom.  Return to the bed and get a sock from one of your four sock drawers (preferably the ones that is full of socks with no mates.)  Put the sock on the cat’s head to make him look like one of those elderly ladies in a Rembrandt painting.  Do this several times until the cat is bored.

4. Now that your husband is good and asleep, turn on the bedroom light and start writing in your journal with a scratchy fountain pen making as much noise as possible.  Realize that your idea is so good, so compelling, so full of life and heart and promise that you have to get up immediately and go to the office and type it on the computer.  This ticks the cat off who walks down his kitty stairs (yes, he is so old, he has a little set of stairs just to get on the bed) and stands at the office door yelling.  This wakes the husband up.  (The audience really likes this part.)

5.  The husband mumbles something like, “Can’t you sleep like a normal person?”  You return to bed, turn off the bedroom light, and turn the television on with the mute button on, and watches four episodes of “House Hunters.”

6.  Before finally going to sleep, use the bathroom. Yet, again.

Isn’t this much more entertaining than the actress at MoMA?

Contributor Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana writer whose column “The Raven Lunatic” runs in a dozen newspapers and magazines. Amy specializes in health writing, with a passion for rehabilitation and disability issues. She also enjoys writing about politics, travel and the arts. Follow her on Twitter at @ravenonhealth, at her web-site or as  Bernadine Spitzsnogel on Open Salon.  She likes to hear from readers at

Image via The Gothamist

  • Joan Haskins

    I like performance art. This would be standing room only, it’s so good.

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