The “party of the summer” inspired guests to line up prior to opening, looking to enjoy every minute of The 25th Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit & Auction at the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation’s sprawling campus. Themed Time Bomb, it attracted a hip, attractive crowd, a thousand strong – who can now claim bragging rights for attending – and raised 2.2 million dollars to continue Robert Wilson’s work to nurture young artists. Pierre Bergé, who co-founded Yves Saint Laurent with his lover, was honored in memory. A commanding figure in French industry and culture, Bergé’s circle of friends included Camus, Sartre, Cocteau and Wilson. Bergé’s final partner Madison Cox spoke during dinner.
“I first met Pierre Bergé in Paris in 1971, following my production of Deafman Glance,” Wilson told Hamptons.com. “After a 20-year friendship, I approached Bergé with my idea for a laboratory for the arts on Long Island: The Watermill Center. Bergé was the first to give a major contribution in support of the purchase of the building. Following this initial gift, Bergé continually supported my work, both for the stage as a producer, and off the stage as a board member of the Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation. The Watermill Center and I would never have achieved so much in the arts without Bergé’s unconditional support from the start.”
“This year, we consider the work and life of the Watermill Center, rather than individual artists, in retrospective. Time Bomb stages extensions, excavations, prostheses and transformations, featuring installations and performances conceived and produced by past Artists-in-Residence, Inga Maren Otto Fellows and participants in this year’s International Summer Program. With artists’ representing more than 25 nations across the globe, Time Bomb offers a unique insight into the current global artistic mindset,” he added.
That mindset included an shooting soldier encased in plexiglass. The artist as warrior? “The Time Bomb theme could represent the current presidency, representing that the leader of the Free World is so unstable that, like TNT or nitroglycerin, he could explode at any minute,” Broadway Producer (with husband Stewart F Lane) Bonnie Comley said. Longtime supporters, Bonnie and Stew are helming the Broadway HD streaming channel they founded from their East Hampton estate this month. “Art installations that had themes of people being trapped or helpless included a bondage man in ropes and a woman digging her own grave. And there were lots of video included in installations with celebrity images, suggesting people want to be distracted by music, television and movies.” It could also allude to the past, present and future of Watermill. Wilson’s themes are characteristically subject to many interpretations.
The Lane’s daughter Leah, an aspiring actress, has been participating in the evening’s preparations and, previously in the performances, since she was a young teen. “It always seems like they are working ’til the last minute,” I told her. She laughed, possibly because this year, she was not submerged in a “sea” through tank of water, in the name of art.
Art, politics, fashion, food, world class Tequila Don Julio, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Gerolsteiner cocktails and performances and works curated by Noah Khoshbin and Ivan Cheng helped create the magic that makes this evening a touchstone of the Hamptons’ soiree season.
Guests included Marina Abramović – bejeweled in sponsor Van Cleef & Arpels – Lisa Anastos, Jackie Astier, Maria (Pessino) Bacardi, Joan Bankemper, Ariane Batterberry, Christopher Beckman, Danny Bennett & Hadley Spanier, Katharina Otto-Bernstein & Nathan Bernstein, Brodi Borchardt and Gregory Borchardt, Sonja & Martin Brand, Michael Braverman, Christine Wächter-Campbell & William I. Campbell, Bianca Casady and Sierra Casady (CocoRosie), Lady Liliana Cavendish, Alain Coblence and Nicholas Coblence, Bob Colacello, Madison Cox, Alina Cho, Blair Voltz Clarke, E.V. Day, Mel Dogan, Lisa & Sanford Ehrenkranz, Charles Fabius, Wendy & Roger Ferris, Jürgen & Anke Friedrich, Amanda & Glenn Fuhrman, Addis Goldman, Jamee Gregory and Peter Gregory, Byrd Hoffman Foundation President Claude Grunitzky, Anne Hearst & Jay McInerney, Brett Helsham, Anne Huntington, Jean Philippe Kadzinski and Adrianne Kadzinski, Johanna Keimeyer, Susi Kenna, Kirk Knight, Walid Layadi-Marfouk, Nina & Daniel Libeskind, Maggie Magerko, Edward Mapplethorpe and Michelle Yun, Masako Miki, Delanique Millwood, Igee Okafor, Jon Oringer, Maxwell Osborne, Inga Maren Otto, Tripoli Patterson, Lisa and Richard Perry, Kembra Pfahler, Kathy Prounis, Tatiana & Campion Platt, Polina Proshkina and Yan Assoun, Simon de Pury, Gustavo Pandolfo and Otavio Pandolfo (OSGEMEOS), Othon Prounis and Kathy Prounis, Duke Riley, Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Isabella Rossellini, Georgia Sagri, Amy Sall, Anastasiya Siro, Jay Sugarman & Kelly Behun Sugarman, James Taylor, Olivia Tedesco, Shen Wei, Watermill Founder Robert Wilson and Shirley Young.
Dotted across the forest, guests come upon works by Kira Alker & Elke Luyten, Laurie Anderson, Davide Balliano, Yto Barrada (courtesy the artist & Pace Gallery), Bäst, Oliver Beer, Tania Bruguera, Anne Carson, CocoRosie, Inga Galinyte, Miles Greenberg & Nile Harris, A.M. Homes, Jenny Holzer, Dawn Kasper (courtesy David Lewis Gallery), Amy Khoshbin, Christopher Knowles, Baboo Liao with Adrian Damian & Mariano Marquez, Wangechi Mutu, NoodleRice, OSGEMEOS, Anna Papathanasiou, Cleon Peterson, Flavio Pezzotti, Reynold Reynolds & Patrick Jolley, Georgia Sagri, Annamaria & Marzio Sala (Courtesy Kolumba, Köln), Stephen Shanabrook, Naomi Shihab Nye, Shoplifter A.K.A. Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Paul Thek, Tassy Thompson, Naama Tsabar with Kristin Müller, Basco Vazko, Carlos Vela-Prado, Nari Ward (courtesy the artist & Lehmann Maupin, New York & Hong Kong). Karma Automotive presented their 2018 Revero for guests to experience. At dinner, auctioneer Simon de Pury and emcee Helga Davis lent their talents.
More than 70 artists from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America participated. All proceeds from the event benefit The Watermill Center’s Year-Round Artist Residency and Education Programs.
The Watermill Center is located at 39 Water Mill Towd Road in Water Mill. For more information, visit www.watermillcenter.org.