A Lab Of Inspiration And Performance

CocoRosie, Lying Awake: Our Lady of the Flowers. Independent/Maria Baranova

This Saturday, July 27, marks the 26th annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit and Auction. The event, presented by Van Cleef & Arpels, will feature more than 25 art performances and installations as it unites the realms of performance, art, and design.

This year’s theme, Tabula Rasa, a Latin phrase translated as “clean slate,” is taken from English philosopher and physician John Locke’s theory that all knowledge comes from experience and is developed through one’s own perception of the world. The Watermill Center honors and embraces this philosophy by allowing guests to engage in work that delves into an unconventional way of thinking.

Katharine Rayner, notable philanthropist and supporter of The Watermill Center, will be honored at the benefit, alongside Carrie Mae Weems, an influential contemporary artist of today.

Artistic director Robert Wilson founded the Watermill Center in 1990 with a vision to bring an international cultural center to the East End, with Rayner close to his side. “She was among the first to support the idea of an international cultural center with an open-door policy for artists of all disciplines and backgrounds. She encouraged the development of Watermill as a center of intellectual freedom situated on Long Island; a center that houses a collection of works from the past and a laboratory for the creation of new work,” said Wilson.

Weems received The Watermill Center’s Inga Maren Otto Fellowship in 2017 to support her new performance work. “She is radical and elegant — an unparalleled image maker who stands resolutely for social justice,” Wilson said. “She questions the contradictions between past and present . . . between history and memory. Her intimate portraits are a path towards healing.”

Participating artists this year include former Watermill artists-in-residence Gillian Walsh, LEIMAY, and the Daxophone Consort with Daniel Fishkin, Cleek Schrey, and Ron Shalom. Other presenting artists include Graciela Sacco, Lance de los Reyes, Billy Bultheel and Alexander Iezzi, Stina Fors, Özgür Kar, Jacky Connolly, Jay Tan, Naufus Ramirez Figueroa, and Megan May Daalder. Additional installations and performances were developed by artists participating in the International Summer Program, working in collaboration with Wilson.

The event’s proceeds will go towards The Watermill Center’s Education and Artist Residency Programs. In 2006, the Artist Residency Program launched as The Center became a year-round destination. Each artist-in-residence has access to resources including 20,000 square feet of space, a theater production archive, study library, other collections, and 10 acres of landscaped grounds and gardens. Beyond fostering individual creativity, these programs invite the community to experience the artists’ works with open rehearsals, workshops, and intimate artist talks.

The gala will begin at 6 PM with cocktails and art installations, performances, and a silent auction. A dinner will be served around 8 PM with a live auction by Simon de Pury. Concluding the festivities will be an after party with dessert, dancing, and a DJ from 10 PM through midnight.

To purchase tickets, visit www.watermillcenter.org.

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