Watermill, a Twisted Party for the Ages
After passing a row of tiki lamps, there was punk-rock legend Lydia Lunch inside a small, cramped hut, playing electric guitar alongside a drummer and a single space fan (must have been hot in there). Further down the path, an inverted pair of real human legs on top of a day-glo mound of fake hair performed suggestive poses to the beat of two metronomes. Then, past the woman digging a grave and the cute, tied-up cherub-boys in tighty whiteys, was an intriguing installation by Miles Greenberg and Nile Harris. The gold-grilled performers donned VR goggles and evening dresses while very slowly writhing with each other on a platform of pink sand and TV screens.
Once out of the forest, the gauntlet of surreal installations continued—a guy in a reindeer mask shooting his paintball rifle at you inside a clear plastic room, a petite woman crouched over a leaf-blower carefully inflating a balloon the size of a New York City apartment. Inside the main building, an entrancing audio-visual performance by the musical duo CocoRosie was staged with what looked the cast of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. There was a lot more to describe, but once the hors d’oeuvres and Don Julio-sponsored Palomas were distributed, it was time to start schmooze and people-watch. Isabella Rosselini, Lucien Smith, and the goddess of performance art, Marina Abramovic, were all in attendance.
Abramovic was literally the marquee lot in the live auction later that evening. Dinner with Marina and nine of your closest friends was the first item up for bid, and not only would Abramovic come to your dining room and presumably stare at you silently for hours, she would also cook dinner! It seemed like a great deal until she laid down some ground rules: first she would need a dutch oven. Then, she would need to confiscate all cellphones, watches, and computers from the guests, who would also need to abstain from sex, television, and any mention of Trump for the three days prior to the dinner. Ok, I lied about the dutch oven part.
Despite these restrictions, a bidding war ensued where renown auctioneer and orator, Simon de Pury, skillfully steered the two final bidders into both becoming winners of separate dinners for $35,000 a piece, to the delight of everyone in the room. Except perhaps for Marina, whose face seemed to drop once realizing she now had to cook dinner for ten strangers not once, but twice. It seems even for veterans like Abramovic, the Watermill Summer Benefit is still a night full of surprises.