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‚The Wa­ter­mill is li­ke a treeé, ex­plai­ned the vi­sio­na­ry Ame­ri­can ar­ti­st, de­scri­bing the New York cen­tre he foun­ded. Roo­ted in the ba­se­ment are the art col­lec­tions’ ar­chi­ves and li­bra­ry. The buil­ding is the trunk, the co­re of this ar­ti­stic com­pound whe­re the world’s mo­st crea­ti­ve ty­pes li­ve, re­hear­se and find inspiration. Wil­son’s own cut­ting-ed­ge art co­mes ali­ve in a show at Vil­la Pan­za in Va­re­se, Ita­ly

The ex­pe­ri­men­tal thea­tre director Ro­bert Wil­son lo­ves to fly. Sky hi­gh, the Ame­ri­can ga­zes out at the wild blue yon­der, down at his ho­me sta­te of Te­xas and at the wi­de world be­low. Yet sin­ce 1992, his crea­ti­ve ou­tlet has been set in the soil of pla­net Ear­th: the Wa­ter­mill Cen­ter near the to­wn of Sou­thamp­ton on Long Island, ju­st about two hours from New York Ci­ty. This isn’t sim­ply a hou­se, nor a school. Wil­son, a hi­ghly ac­clai­med, mul­ti-ta­len­ted ar­ti­st, of­fers this de­scrip­tion of the cen­ter he foun­ded: «An in­ter­na­tio­nal la­bo­ra­to­ry for crea­ti­ve thought. A pla­ce for ex­chan­ging ideas, open to ar­tists in eve­ry field from around the world». When he be­gan loo­king for a lo­ca­tion for his crea­ti­ve think tank, Wil­son had in mind a spot sur­roun­ded by na­tu­re. «In the 1960s, I vi­si­ted Long Island and real­ly li­ked the area. I ha­ve al­ways been dra­wn to pa­no­ra­mas and light. Ein­stein said that light is the mea­su­re­ment of eve­ry­thing. Wi­thout light, the spa­ce doe­sn’t exi­st». The Wa­ter­mill Cen­ter is lo­ca­ted in a for­mer te­le­com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­sear­ch fa­ci­li­ty. To­day the cen­ter buz­zes wi­th ar­ti­stic even­ts. It’s ma­ny edu­ca­tio­nal pro­grams are par­tial­ly sup­por­ted by the an­nual sum­mer be­ne­fit par­ty whi­ch the Ame­ri­can wri­ter Jay McI­ner­ney dub­bed «the Hamp­tons’ mo­st fa­sci­na­ting and wil­de­st par­ty». Over the years, the Wa­ter­mill Cen­ter has un­der­go­ne ma­ny me­ta­mor­pho­ses, ta­king its cue from Wil­son’s li­mi­tless ima­gi­na­tion. It’s a uni­ver­se of slow, hal­ting mo­ve­men­ts and tos­sed glan­ces before step­ping for­ward; spa­ces fil­led wi­th stories, poetry, sounds; de­si­gn as the perfect punc­tua­tion of an ab­so­lu­te ae­sthe­tic and con­trol­ling even the mo­st mi­ni­scu­le de­tails. «I ha­ve al­ways en­vi­sio­ned the ar­chi­tec­tu­re he­re in dif­fe­rent ways», said Wil­son, who be­ca­me in­ter­na­tio­nal kno­wn as a thea­tre director for his col­la­bo­ra­tion wi­th com­po­ser Phi­lip Glass on the 1970s ma­ster­pie­ce, «The Wa­ter­mill is li­ke a tree», ex­plai­ned Wil­son. «The ba­se­ment – the roo­ts – holds the art col­lec­tions’ ar­chi­ves and the li­bra­ry. Then the main buil­ding ac­ts as the trunk whe­re the­re’s spa­ce for li­ving, re­hear­sing, hol­ding con­fe­ren­ces and se­mi­nars and even pre­pa­ring meals». Wil­son’s ap­proa­ch to de­si­gn is sim­ple. «I be­gin wi­th a blank pa­ge and start dra­wing. Then I li­sten to the dra­wing; it tells me what to do». This sa­me phi­lo­so­phy is ap­plied to cen­ter’s buil­ding. «The spa­ce should be fle­xi­ble by na­tu­re, ca­pa­ble of ho­sting a wi­de ran­ge of ac­ti­vi­ties. He­re at Wa­ter­mill, we li­ve wi­th art, bo­th ou­tsi­de and in­si­de the buil­ding. Mo­st of the col­lec­tion (5,000 pieces, da­ting back to 5,000 BC) is hou­sed in the ar­chi­ves, but pieces can be re­mo­ved and di­splayed in work areas as well as li­ving spa­ces. No­thing is per­ma­nent». In the cen­ter’s lar­ge halls, eve­ry work do­mi­na­tes its al­lot­ted spa­ce, whe­ther it’s an Asian sculp­tu­re, Afri­can ce­ra­mics, shoes that once be­lon­ged to the cho­reo­gra­pher Geor­ge Ba­lan­chi­ne, a Ger­rit Riet­veld chair, books, pho­to­gra­phs, films, do­cu­men­ts and one, 10 or 100 sea­ts de­si­gned by Ro­bert Wil­son him­self. «The en­ti­re hu­man ex­pe­rien­ce and the di­ver­si­ty of tra­di­tions are step­ping sto­nes gui­ding us to the fu­tu­re». A si­mi­lar spi­rit is ali­ve in the ex­hi­bit whi­ch will be di­splayed at the vil­la in Va­re­se, Ita­ly until 15 Oc­to­ber 2017. The ce­le­bra­ted are the main attraction wi­th other sur­pri­ses. «The ‘Vi­deo Por­trai­ts’ are li­ke a win­dow in a room. You can look out and see so­me­thing. When you re­turn, even af­ter an hour, what you saw has chan­ged slightly be­cau­se of the light or the wind». In Vil­la Pan­za’s halls, La­dy Ga­ga ga­zes out at the pu­blic from vi­deo screens. Mea­n­whi­le, on the vil­la’s grounds, a re­cor­ding of Wil­son slo­w­ly reading Rai­ner Ma­ria Ril­ke’s is broa­d­ca­st in­si­de a small, woo­den Sha­ker-sty­le hou­se tuc­ked among the an­cient trees. A con­ver­sa­tion bet­ween Wil­son and the re­no­w­ned art col­lec­tor. Wi­th the light as the leit­mo­tif.

the Bea­ch. Ro­bert Wil­son for Vil­la Pan­za. Ta­les Vi­deo Por­trai­ts Ein­stein on A Hou­se for Giu­sep­pe Pan­za,

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