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Watermill Center Benefit to Honor Laurie Anderson and Isabelle Huppert, in Tribute to Lou Reed

A scene from the 2015 edition of the benefit.

PHOTO BY KATHERINE MCMAHON

‘Tis the season for galas out east, and today comes news about perhaps the biggest, The Watermill Center’s 24th Annual Summer Benefit & Auction. The production value at this particular party far exceeds that of your average Hamptons shindig—it’s more like a five-hour performance in a garden that also includes a black-tie dinner somewhere in there. It didn’t seem particularly out of the ordinary when Marina Abramovic brought Lady Gaga as her date one year. And so on.

Perhaps you recall last year’s rather wild and wooly edition, which showcased work by the Bruce High Quality Foundation. There were boats filled with ice water and carcasses crawling with grasshoppers, all there to entertain the well-heeled crowd. Kanye West was supposed to perform. He didn’t. 

This year, the event will take on the moniker “Fly into the Sun,” and will honor the artist Laurie Anderson and the actress Isabelle Huppert. The night will also act as a tribute to the late Lou Reed, a constant figure in the Watermill Center’s orbit, having collaborated frequently with its director, Robert Wilson, such as when they wrote an opera based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe.

“I am very pleased to honor two very close friends,” Wilson told ARTnews in a statement. “The French international film star Isabelle Huppert, who was most recently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role. I have directed her in productions in Paris that have traveled internationally. I also made a video portrait of her.”

He added that, at the dinner, Anderson will perform The Wildebeests, a poem with musical accompaniment that she staged alongside Reed, who was her partner, at the Watermill gala in 1997.

“Laurie Anderson and I collaborated on a production of Euripides’s Alcestis with a prologue text of Heiner Mueller,” Wilson said. “She wrote music which I staged. She also did a sound installation for an exhibition I did of Greek and Roman antiquities in Turin.”

It’s happening July 29. And while this seems unlikely given his uncharacteristic silence as of late… last year Wilson mentioned that Kanye would be back to perform at the 2017 edition of the benefit. Just saying.

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