artist / participant
Robert Wilson is one of the rare artists who works across artistic media without being buoyed by one method of making. The process of creation transcends a single medium and instead finds outlets within the archetype of an opera, the architecture of a building, the marks of a watercolor drawing, the design of a chair, the choreography of a dance, the rhythm of a sonnet, or the multiple dynamics revealed in a video portrait. By incorporating a multitude of creative elements; lighting, costume, make-up, choreography, gesture, text, voice, set design, and narrative – the Video Portraits act as a complete synthesis of all the media in the realm of Wilson’s art making. The medium is high definition video but the form blurs time-based cinematography with the frozen moment of still photography. As in the layering nature of Wilson’s creative process, the Video Portraits infuse references found in painting, sculpture, design, architecture, dance, theater, photography, television, film, and contemporary culture. The final result on the monitor resembles a photograph, but on closer inspection reveals Wilson’s highly developed theatrical language in conjunction with the startling clarity and precision of high definition video. The GAGA Portraits were shot in October 2013 in London and premiered the following month as part of Robert Wilson’s exhibition “Living Rooms” at the Louvre Museum in Paris that marked an unprecedented collaboration between the world’s quintessential museum and the artist who, in the words of Louis Aragon, is “what we, from whom surrealism was born, dreamed would come after and go beyond us.” That exhibition marked the first time the Louvre collaborated so closely with a contemporary artist and a pop culture icon. This exhibition at The Watermill Center marks the Portraits’ U.S. debut. The GAGA Portraits are largely influenced by three master paintings from the Louvre’s vast permanent collection: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière (1806), Jacques-Louis David’s famed painting The Death of Marat (1806), and Andrea Solari’s The Head of Saint John The Baptist (1507). The fourth portrait, Flying, does not derive from the Louvre’s Collection but is contemporary in nature while rooted in the ancient Japanese rope bondage, Shibari.