Hamptons Life

The Watermill Center

the BODY/The Watermill Center’s 31st Annual Summer Benefit.

July 30, 2023:  The Watermill Center’s Annual Gala, always a lavish and spectacular event, where guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in curated installations and view performances throughout the expansive grounds, began in spectacular fashion with stunning weather and balmy breezes, perfect for walking amongst the installations and chatting with the artists.

the BODY/The Watermill Center’s 31st Annual Summer Benefit. 

July 30, 2023:  The Watermill Center’s Annual Gala, always a lavish and spectacular event, where guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in curated installations and view performances throughout the expansive grounds, began in spectacular fashion with stunning weather and balmy breezes, perfect for walking amongst the installations and chatting with the artists. 

The annual Summer Benefit is a celebration of art and experimentation in support of the Center’s year-round programing. The event featured dynamic works by a roster of groundbreaking international artists.  Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in a curated series of installations and performances across The Watermill Center’s expansive property. 

“the BODY” was presented by Van Cleef & Arpels, with generous additional support provided by PFRANKMD by Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, Prada, Aperol, and Campari America.

Stemming from The Watermill Center’s 30 plus years association with performance, the 2023 Annual Summer Benefit centered on the body’s role in art making. “the BODY” will take a broad approach engendered by diverse cultures and mediums, including time-based performance, painting, sculpture, and video.

Featured artists include Thomas Anderson (United States), Yunseo Choi (Republic of Korea, Germany), Afra Al Dhaheri (United Arab Emirates), Evelyn Dugan (United States), Cecilia Xuetong Feng (China, Germany), Regina José Galindo (Guatemala), Ola Maciejewska (Poland, France), Casilda Madrazo (Mexico), Katimari Niskala (Finland), Alessandro Di Pietro (Italy), Sorin Prodea (Romania, Germany), Johan Rasumussen Sterner (Norway, Denmark), Ismael Reyes Romero (Chile), Anthony Roques (France), Dovydas Strimaitis (Lithuania, France), Lyuba Todorova (Bulgaria), Robert Wilson (United States), and Agathe Vidal (France).nt

At precisely 8:00pm, Robert Wilson appeared on the steps of the center overlooking the courtyard and we hurried over to be photographed with the world-renowned artist, and founder of The Watermill Center. This was about 45 minutes before the event’s finale, Robert Wilson’s “Ubu,” was about to begin

The evening was set to close with a workshop restaging of Robert Wilson’s “Ubu,” inspired by Alfred Jarry’s 1896 classic, “Ubu Roi,” a critique of war and totalitarianism. Originally presented at the Es Baluard Museum in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, “Ubu” is a surreal reflection of paradoxical inequalities throughout history and the modern day. 

The production featuring The Watermill Center’s summer Artists-in-Residence as performers was due to begin around 8:45 on an outside stage. The performers were ready to begin, concealed under torn up newspapers as part of the setting. 

However, the day’s perfection did not last, and just as Robert Wilson entered and took his seat in the front row, the balmy breezes turned gusty and heavy rain drops began to fall from the sky.  Within moments it was pouring and the assembled guests along with Robert Wilson were scurrying for cover. Only the performers remained. The rain did not let up, and the show did not go on as planned. Hopefully, it will be re-scheduled. 

In 1992 avant-garde visionary Robert Wilson founded The Watermill Center as an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities situated on ten acres of Shinnecock ancestral territory on Long Island’s East End. With an emphasis on creativity and collaboration, The Center offers year-round artist residencies and education programs, providing a global community with the time, space, and freedom to create and inspire. PC

The Watermill Center 
39 Water Mill Towd Rd 
Water Mill NY, 11976
Photography: Barry Gordin

Lenny Lane, Stewart Lane and Frankie Lane.
Claudine De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Blythe Danner.
Robert Wilson
Patrick Christiano, Robert Wilson and Barry Gordin.