Isabelle Huppert, Laurie Anderson, Robert Downey Jr. Gather for the Annual Watermill Benefit

Image by Lovis Osternik


One of the genuine highlights of the Hamptons’ season is Robert Wilson’s annual Watermill Summer Benefit & Auction (this year sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels, Karma Automotive, Robert Piguet Parfums and Don Julio Tequila), replete as it always is with A-listers, philanthropists, art world bigwigs and, of course, the artists themselves. Celebrating its 24th anniversary this past Saturday, 2017s theme was “FLY INTO THE SUN” – and with a dress code of “Dark Shiny Matter,” the decked out crowd was as interesting to behold as the performances themselves.

Each year the performance artists vigorously test the boundaries of imagination, and this one definitely did not disappoint. Upon entry guests were greeted by Jared Madere’s colorful, large scale installation, ushering everyone into an imaginary and ethereal forested landscape. While exploring the Center’s 8.5 acre grounds, nude models lay above cellophane-wrapped archways, which led to more than 20 other works and performances curated by Noah Khoshbin and Ivan Cheng, in tribute to the late Lou Reed’s life and work.


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Some of the visually arresting works included a 90-foot wall featuring Jenny Holzer’s work titled She Outwits Him / She Outlives Him, with a haunting Gregorian-esque chant playing in the background. Other suggestive performances along the tiki torch lined path included Storyboard P. Presents’ Formless Expressions, Kate Gilmore’s Beat, Nile Harris’s Monkey on His Back (Love Laboratory) – which featured a man nearly buried under a towering pile of bananas – Stephen Shanabrook’s sculpture of a headless man with billowing cotton candy left for brains, and a chilling performance piece titled Salute by Croatian artist Vesna Mackovic…which seemed to have been inspired by the Grady twins from Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining.

Notables amongst the star studded crowd of 1000 guests included guest of honor Isabelle Huppert, Francesco Clemente, Paula Cooper, Peter Cramer, Damien Davis, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Susan & Robert Downey Jr., Countess Elisabetta Giroldi, Audrey & Martin D. Gruss, Anne Hearst & Jay McInerney, Daniel Libeskind, Dalia Oberlander, Maxwell Osborne, Tatiana & Campion Platt, Polina Proshkina, Lucien Smith and Alex Soros.

To keep the soiree going until the wee hours, Laurie Anderson gave a special performance, followed by a DJ set by Flat White (aka Virgil Abloh), who turned it up to get the dance floor hopping.

Proceeds from the benefit, as always, went to supporting the Watermill Center’s year-round artists residency and education programs.


Image by Chloé Bellemère


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