The Watermill Center’s ‘the BODY’ Summer Benefit

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On Saturday, July 29, The Watermill Center hosted “the BODY: The Watermill Center Annual Summer Benefit,” which celebrated art and creative experimentation in support of the organization’s year-round Artist Residency and Education programming.

As the clear blue skies and sun that dominated the majority of the evening suddenly gave way to rain, Artistic Director Robert Wilson was heard saying, “It is perfect,” as the downpour soaked the newspaper-laden set of “Ubu.” He continued, “I came to this area to be closer to nature!”

Those who withstood the rainstorm enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime performance of “Ubu” by Robert Wilson, who, after the rain took out the sound system, narrated the production live—a first for both The Watermill Center and Wilson himself. Performed by The Watermill Center’s summer Artists-in-Residence, “Ubu” is a surreal reflection of paradoxical inequalities throughout history and the modern day. Dancing between drizzles and downpours, performers and audiences alike came together to brave the elements and prove that, after all, the show must go on.

Wendy Keys, Blythe Danner. Photo by Madison McGaw, BFA.

Originally presented at the Es Baluard Museum in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, “Ubu” is presented by invitation of Imma Prieto, Director of Es Baluard Museum. This is the first time one of Wilson’s works has been shown in New York in nearly a decade.

“The Annual Summer Benefit is the only moment when our laboratory becomes a stage celebrating performance in a way that is unique to The Watermill Center. We situate the artists and their work at the center of the experience,” shared Managing Director, Elise Herget.

The 2023 Annual Summer Benefit centered on the body’s role in art making. Regina Jose Galindo’s “SIREN” performance, in collaboration with a dozen mechanics working alongside the artist, presented a natural dialogue with her exhibition, “The Body,” which debuted concurrently at The Watermill Center, tracing her twenty-year career as a performance artist and poet.

“The spectacle of seeing a team of mechanics slowly dismantle a decommissioned police cruiser while Regina sat passively inside created a profound significance from simple acts. Watching the roof of the vehicle being removed or sparks flying as the chassis was cut in two was deeply captivating, and that was just one of nearly twenty works on display,”  Herget shared.

“The Body” is on view through October 15 and will include a special talkback with Regina Jose Galindo on August 12 at The Watermill Center’s Artists Table Brunch series.

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