Robert Wilson dissected and reconfigured the theatrical experience as cubism once did for the picture frame, prompting Eugène Ionesco to call Wilson’s wordless and word-sparse tomes, the “silence that speaks.” The Watermill Center, which Wilson founded, titled this year’s gala “Circus of Stillness… the power over wild beasts.” Hamptons.com asked the Artistic Director to expound on the theme.
“Years ago, I made a work called ‘A Letter to Queen Victoria,'” Wilson told us. “It was the first play of mine that had spoken text, because all of my early work was silent: visual text, no spoken text. Opening night, much to my surprise, sitting to my left was Ezra Pound. A few days before, in the “Daily American,” which was a paper in English that was published in Europe, there was a photograph of Ezra Pound and the caption under it was something he had said when he was in prison in Pisa: ‘The stillness is the power over wild beasts.’ That’s always been a thread through all my work, dealing with the movement that’s in stillness. So, this is circling back to something that’s in my roots.”
In that spirit, The Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation’s Annual Summer Benefit & Auction at The Watermill Center, is known for a phantasmagoria of arresting tableau’s that punctuate wooden trails and focal points of the 8.5 acre center. They are by the artists at their International Summer Program and those more renown. More than 1,200 people traversed the bamboo entry, dotted with Cleon Peterson’s 10 foot red graphic figures, to see performances by Sierra “Rosie” Casady of CocoRosie, a collaborative installation by forthcoming resident artists Cirkus Cirkör, a sculpture by Daniel Arsham, and works by Cleon Peterson, Basco Vazko, Gary Garay, and Radamés ‘Juni’ Figueroa, among others. Simon de Pury auctioned donated works, which included Marina Abramović, Uta Barth, Annie Leibovitz, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and Ursula von Rydingsvard.
Among the guests at Saturday night’s event were artist Daniel Arsham; writer Bob Colacello; producer and arts patron Christophe de Menil; philanthropist Diana DiMenna; Bill T. Jones and Bjorn G. Amelan of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company; designer and fashion pioneer Fern Mallis; designer Nicole Miller; actress Brooke Shields; Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne; curator Anastasiya Siro; philanthropist Barbara Slifka; performer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot; designer John Varvatos; singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright; and musician Roger Waters.
Benefit Co-Chairs included Lindsey and Ian Adelman; Shaikha Paula Al-Sabah; Sonja Bebber and Martin Brand; Giancarla and Luciano Berti; Lisa and Sanford Ehrenkranz; Wendy and Roger Ferris; Laura and Michael Fisch; Anke and Jürgen Friedrich; Barbara Goldsmith; Claude Grunitzky; Josefin and Paul Hilal; Phil Hilal; Maja Hoffmann; Carola and Bob Jain; Calvin Klein; Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane; Dorothy Lichtenstein; Eugenio Lopez; Honorable and Mrs. Earle I. Mack; Anne Hearst McInerney; Joanne Ooi; Inga Maren Otto; Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Nathan Bernstein; Lisa and Richard Perry; Tatiana and Campion Platt; Alexander Soros; Susan Shin; Barbara Slifka; and Christine Wächter-Campbell and William I. Campbell.
Honorary Chairs for the event included Marina Abramović; Jane Adams; Pedro Almodóvar; Laurie Anderson; Mikhail Baryshnikov; Iman and David Bowie; Steve Buscemi; Lucinda Childs; Alba and Francesco Clemente; Chuck Close; Bob Colacello; Alan Cumming; Willem Dafoe; Christophe de Menil; Marianne Faithfull; Renée Fleming; Frank Gehry; Philip Glass; Jenny Holzer; Isabelle Huppert; Anjelica Huston; Bianca Jagger; Jim Jarmusch; Lang Lang; Annie Leibovitz; Kylie Minogue; Isaac Mizrahi; Jessye Norman; Charles Renfro; Tim Robbins; Sir Salman Rushdie; Sharon Stone; and Rufus Wainwright and Jörn Weisbrodt.
The Watermill Center is located at 39 Water Mill Towd Road in Water Mill. For more information, call 631-726-4628 or visit www.watermillcenter.org.