The theme may have been "One Thousand Nights and One Night: Sleepless Night of Sheherazade" at this year's Watermill Center Benefit, but as we well know, Lady Gaga's visual and conceptual incarnations can fire off a thousand and one narratives in anyone's imagination. That conceit informs the slow moving videos of the "Born This Way" singer/ performance artist created by Robert Wilson, perhaps following Andy Warhol's classic experimental work in that genre. Having made a live appearance last year, this weekend Lady Gaga was represented in images of impending demise, such as David's "Death of Marat," and Ingres' "Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere." Only Cindy Sherman has more poses.
Everywhere on the grounds, guests, including Philip Glass, Hunt Slonem, Barbara Goldsmith, and Hal Willner witnessed death-defying acts in performance pieces such as the man scaling a wall amidst silver streamers, a woman adorned only by a flower wreath submerged in a pit listening to classical music, a man under the heft of a Sisyphus-evoking cement wall. Jim Jarmusch fiddled with the wires of his electric guitar at the entrance, the filmmaker as bemused rock star.
A Warholian spirit prevailed. In "bazaar chic," many guests may have the eccentrics at Warhol's Factory, the artist's observation about fame, and the simple desire to have portraits made of them in mind. Whether it is the show itself, or the creative spirit people bring, in its wild spectacle, this event never ceases to dazzle.
Another guest at the Watermill Center, Bob Colacello, moderated a panel on Andy Warhol's global influence at Guild Hall the next morning. Sunday's panel, including Peter Brant, Larry Gagosian, Jane Holzer, Alberto Mugrabi, Aby Rosen, and the Whitney's Donna De Salvo talked about the paintings, the portraits, the many ironies of Warhol's short but extremely prolific and influential career: he was influenced by Dali, competed with Picasso. One audience member, fixated on his reticence, or minimal conversation in public, asked if he was the same around people who knew him well. Colacello, who quipped that he was one of Warhol's translators, English to English, reminded everyone, the artist loved to gossip.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.