Simone Forti’s Iconic Conceptual Dance Pieces Restaged At Watermill Center

Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center honored dance and visual artist Simone Forti by restaging four iconic works. Forti’s international project coordinator, Sarah Swenson, presented the prominent works by Forti with 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.

The pieces were performed for a rotating audience of five hundred guests 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). Simone Forti, who celebrated her eighty-eighth birthday this year, watched via livestream from her California home.

Huddle by Simone Forti. Photo: Carol Clifford

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 to be proclaimed a “conceptual artist” 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. She is based in Los

Angeles and works on global projects with Sarah Swenson. Sarah Swenson is an American modern dance choreographer, dancer, and teacher who is Forti’s International Project Coordinator and principal stager.

Forti’s work has appeared in venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Louvre Museum, Paris; and Danspace, 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 and a Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts in 2011 and the Biennale Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Dance in 2023.

Bonnie Comley, Demiân White in Simone Forti’s Landscape Partners. Photo: Carol Clifford

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.

For more information on The Watermill Center, see:

Veronica Mak

I'm a New York-based journalist covering business, celebrity and entertainment news at Josep Vinaixa. I hold a master's degree from New York University of Journalism.

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