Iconic Simone Forti Conceptual Dance Pieces Performed at The Robert Wilson Watermill Center
Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center honored world-renowned dance and visual artist Simone Forti by restaging four iconic works. The conceptual performance pieces featured a dozen international performers from the worlds of ballet and Broadway, including Eva Alt, Eliza Blutt, Caroline Breton, Bonnie Comley, Mikayla Durham, Savannah Durham, Jonathan Fahoury, Xuetong “Cecilia” Feng, Kennard Henson, Marianna Kavallieratos, Sorin Prodea, Ava Sautter, and Demiân White.
Simone Forti, who celebrated her eighty-eighth birthday this year, watched via livestream from her California home. At the same time, five hundred guests viewed the performance, which took place on an elevated wooden stage surrounded by trees, some growing through the stage. The works staged for the event included Huddle (created in 1961), Censor (created in 1961), Landscape Partners (created in 1970), and Scramble (created in 1970). The Watermill Center Annual Summer Benefit celebrates distinguished individuals’ accomplishments and honors them with an evening of art and experimentation to support the organization’s year-round programming.
The Watermill Center’s 2023 benefit centered on the body’s role in art making. “The BODY” was a broad approach engendered by diverse cultures and mediums, including time-based performance, painting, sculpture, and video.
Simone Forti has been a pioneer in dance and visual art, one of the first anointed “conceptual artists” for her vision of creating dance and performance pieces focusing on the concept or idea for the art instead of wholly the execution of the art. Ms. Forti has worked as a dancer, choreographer, artist, and writer. Based in Los Angeles, Forti works on projects worldwide with Sarah Swenson. Sarah Swenson is a modern American dance choreographer and Forti’s International Project Coordinator and principal stager.
Forti’s work has appeared in venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles; The Louvre Museum, in Paris; and Danspace, in New York. She has had solo exhibitions at Centro Pecci, Prato (2021); Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan (2018); Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich (2017); Kunstmuseum, Bonn (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015), and her first major retrospective at the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria, 2014. Forti’s artwork is in collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Generali Foundation, and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Forti has received various awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in dance in 2005 a Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts in 2011, and the Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Dance in 2023.
The Watermill Center was founded in 1992 by theater and visual artist Robert Wilson. The Watermill Center fosters research in the arts of the stage, providing emerging artists with a unique environment for creation and exploration in theater and all its related art forms and developing a robust global network transcending age, experience, and social, religious, and cultural backgrounds. The Watermill Center supports projects that integrate different genres and art forms, break with traditional forms of representation, and develop democratic and cross-cultural approaches.