The Watermill Center – Your Ticket To “Cool”
photo Megan Whitmarsh and My Barbarian “Tourists From The Future” photo by Rosalie Knox
One of the Hamptons best secrets is a secluded cultural oasis where some of the most amazing emerging artists from all over the world gather to experiment and collaborate. And guess what? You’re invited.
The Watermill Center was founded by Robert Wilson to provide a living laboratory where artists in residence could explore new ideas in a unique environment. Tucked away on the back roads from Southampton, the six acre compound is a stunning modern vision with concrete buildings to house living, performance and exhibition space set in expansive lawns with outdoor sculpture gardens.
Wilson, whom The New York Times called “a towering figure in the world of experimental theater,” wanted to create a cultural think tank which embraced the global and local community. Through their programs, The Watermill Center invites artists to investigate, challenge and extend the existing norms of performance practice. During the fall and winter these two to four week residencies culminate in a presentation of the work-in-progress to the public.
Program Director Kathie Russo explains, “The Watermill Center is a haven for the next generation of artists. The works you see at Watermill during our Fall / Spring Residency Program are not finished products, but works in progress. It is a unique opportunity to be present for the early stages of new work. Each residency event is paired with a Q & A with the artists followed by a reception where you can informally discuss the work with other community members and the artists themselves.”
At these intimate affairs you truly feel like you’d dropped in on the Hamptons version of a Paris salon (absinthe not included.)
And don’t worry. You don’t have to dust off your Dostoevsky or Dada to participate. While many of the performances are avant-garde, they are meant to be experienced on a personal level, and audience members have diverse reactions which only make the discussions of the piece more fascinating. Performances range from full on musical theater productions such as Entertainment from the London based Theo Adams Company to deconstructing music down to 1-bit electronics from the innovative team of Tristan Perich & Argeo Ascani. This is your chance to be behind the curtain to see the creative process before these works go on to be performed at major venues.
And the cost of this very cool evening? Free. You just need to make reservations in advance. Upcoming events May 14th Melati Suryodarmo “A Conversation With The Black.”
The Center also houses Robert Wilson’s extensive collection of art and artifacts and a library with over 16,000 titles. The beautiful thing is that this is a place of study, not a museum, so it is okay to touch. Check to see their open hours where you can peruse books on art, architecture, design, theater, dance, music, or photography or view Wilson’s impressive collection of chairs, ceramics and textiles. Through June there are also guided tours amongst the working artists on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Summer Program expands to 50 to 100 artists from 30 nations for a five week exploration of artistic development with a free open house for the public on August 12th. And the biggest night of the year and one of the Hamptons most exciting and exclusive fundraisers is The Big Bang – The 19th Annual Watermill Center’s Summer Benefit held on July 28, 2012. For this one you do need your check book but it’s worth it.
The Watermill Center, www.watermillcenter.org 39 Watermill Towd Road, Watermill NY 631-726-4628