Voluptuous Panic,” the 18th Annual Watermill Summer Benefit, raised nearly $1.5 million for the Center’s year-round artist residency and education programs. Probably the best event of the Hampton’s summer season, the evening also kicked off the 70th birthday celebration of the world renowned artist Robert Wilson, whose inspiration created the center in 1993. Over 1100 guests attended the cocktail reception and silent auction of fantastic art by prominent artists, while touring the grounds where 25 site specific performance art installations were spread over the compound. All of the installations were produced by 70 artists and participants from over 2 dozen nations on site in the weeks leading up to the benefit and will be on view again to the community on August 14 for Watermill’s annual Discover Watermill day which is free and open to the public.
Guests for cocktails were greeted by an installation by Atopos CVC and Charlie Le Mindu called Milk the Cow along Bacardi specialty drinks. The west terrace featured a musical steamroller by artist Peter Coffin that circled Charlie Le Mindu’s Glitterpool in which almost naked girls bathed themselves in oil and glitter. Atop the steamroller were musicians from People Get Ready.
Following cocktails over 650 guests attended a lavish dinner under a tent designed and created by Megan Whitmarsh and Matthew Salata, where People Get Ready, performed by Steven Reker, Luke Fasano, James Rickman, Jen Goma, and Eddy Crichton entertained guests. The piece was developed as part of the Fall and Spring Residency Program at The Watermill in March of 2011 and was performed subsequently at The Kitchen in New York City. Rufus Wainwright premiered his birthday song for Robert Wilson to an appreciative audience and Master of Ceremonies was Watermill’s director Jorn Weisbrodt.
Auctioneer Simon de Pury negotiated a fierce bidding war over Marina Abramovic’s striking self portrait, while other auction highlights included a Dennis Oppenheim’s sculpture Architectural Cactus #6 (2008), which sold after Robert Wilson’s moving tribute to the late artist. In celebration of Robert Wilson’s 70th Birthday a special live auction lot of 7 commissioned portraits inspired by the artist by Laurie Anderson, Ross Bleckner, Frank Gehry, Peter Hujar, Christopher Knowles, Yoko Ono, David Salle, and 1 song written for him by Rufus Wainwright.
Guests at the spectacular evening included Robert Wilson, Ross Bleckner, Simon de Pury, Roger Waters, Alan Cumming, Klaus Biesenbach, Charles Renfro, Cindy Sherman, Stefano Tonchi, Richard Philips, Katie Lee, Stacy Engman, Hamish Bowles, Katharina Otto-Bernstein & Nathan Bernstein, Jamee & Peter Gregory, Francis Hayward, Stewart Lane, Bonnie Comley, Lisa Anastos, Josephine Meckseper, Zaldy, Mike Furey, Peter Coffin, Andrey Bartenev, May Andersen, Bob Colacello, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Tatiana & Campion Platt, Beth Rudin de Woody, Anne Hearst McInerney & Jay McInerney, Monique Pean, Somers Farkas, Fabiola Beracasa, Lisa Perry, Arden Wohl, Stella Schnabel, Lesley Schulhof, Kyle de Woody, Nicole Miller.
Photography: Barry Gordin