A squadron of angels and sword-bearing seraphs flanked visitors to the recent Watermill Center gala as they wended through trees to the entrance of the party. In hidden speakers you could hear the signature moaning of the artist now known as Anohni and omnipresent intonements like: IT IS DONE AND NOW AND FOREVER IT WILL BE A POINT OF FACT. All this was a piece by Jacques Reynaud titled Angels of Apocalypse.
Once inside, things were less apocalyptic. The July event raised $2m for Watermill, director Robert Wilsons labortory-cum-museum in the Hamptons, with its highest number of attendees ever.
Despite the weather, most guests remained well-quaffed, and obliged the society photographers. One woman brought an Italian Greyhound to the dinner, which she could do because she was beautiful. She spelled her name for a photographer, then without prompting also spelled out the dogs name: F-L-O-R-E-N-C-E.
Works by other artistsone standout, John Margaritiss One Ton Tank, had a swimmer wearing a weight belt struggling to stay above the waterdotted the forest as attendees gathered under a tent in the Watermill courtyard, hiding from the early rain. We come every year and its always like this, said the novelist Jay McInerney, pausing from saying his hellos to chef Eric Ripert. Burning up or pouring rain.
Margaritiss piece wasnt the only one involving water. In the centre of the tent, the Bruce High Quality Foundation presented As We Lay Dying: Marat, a rowboat sculpture mixed with a fountain in which a performer splashed. Off the roof of the space, theyd positioned a peeing cupid statue, which threatened to splash anyone coming out, and around the grounds they positioned lecterns at which performers gave passionate speeches, one about a woman leaving her husband and daughter: Now and forever it will be a point of fact, a speaker said She Has Left Him.
Those dont look like pillows, one partygoer said suspiciously, from the safety of the tent, eyeing a pile of bodies sleeping on a pyramid of pillows on a roof across the way (Brian OMahoneys cats sleep anywhere).
Soon everyone gathered under the tent to eat and auction. An enthusiastic Simon de Pury called the bids, selling the opportunity to be photographed by Nan Goldin for a whopping $140,000. He also auctioned the Fortress of Solitude-like lamps hanging over every diner: These lamps done by one of my favourite artists of all time the great Robert Wilson! The lamps were from Wilsons recent travelling production of La Traviata and each went for around $20,000.
After the dinner Wilson said he was pleased with the results and that funding such performances was more important than ever, now that we have all these political and religious issues that are dividing us.
During the dessert portion, which featured a dance floor near the silent auction works, Bob Colacellothe former Interview editor and Factory denizen, and current writer and Republicansounded off on some of those.
Im mad at Bloomberg for not running, he said when asked if he was supporting Trump. These do feel like end times, he said, like Rome at the sunset of the Empire. Yet here we were talking about transgender bathrooms. When Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling wanted to use the womens rest room, they just used the womens restroom, he said. They didnt petition the government to do it.
In a corner near the bar, Ja Rule was meeting with anyone who wanted an audience.
I love art, he said, and detailed a few of his own recent purchases. I desperately want a Banksy, Im going to get one. I could buy a Basquiat, he added. But Im gonna go broke buying a Basquiat. So. Banksy.
The dance floor was still lively leading up to the events midnight cut-off and when the DJ started suggestively playing Ja Rule songs, the rapper took the hint, took the microphone and performed a handful.
I thought Id send you home with a few, he said, during one song. But of course youre not going home, youre going to the after partyyyy. Hey, wheres the after party?
That wasnt hype, he was actually asking. He didnt know where the after party was. And then there wasnt actually an official after party. So most people, Ja Rule included, just ended up at the home of Florence the dog, and her owner.
Look for more from Dan about town on our website and in the October issue