Friday, July 28, 2006

Shoes II

I will always do what I can to give you what you want.

One for Cory -or- The Bottoms Are Just As Bad

My soles are thin and my soul is being tried. If a performance results, I will document it and show you. If drawings arise, I will post them as well. If I simply throw these boots in the trash, I'll gather my tears and use them to water a freshly planted flower seed on the grounds; something to brighten a momentarily troubled spirit.

Out of the Archives: Shoes

Marlene Dietrich's favorite shoes. She wore these at a performance in which she fell off the stage into the orchestra pit. You can see the drop of blood on the toe of the right shoe in this image. As the story goes, she insisted that the entire audience leave the house of the auditorium before she would allow medics to carry her away.

The shoes of George Balanchine.

A slipper of Rudolf Nureyev's. Note blood.

The shoes of American choreographer Jerome Robbins.

My shoes.

My boots.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


One of the most compelling things for me here at Watermill has been an exposure to dancers from other cultures. While I have always been a fan of dance, the occasions I have actually experienced performances are few. Thankfully, there is a wide range of dancers here who are ready and willing to work, experiment, and let me dress them.

The most intriguing so far have been Illenk Gentille from Indonesia and Savann Yin from Cambodia. Both have proven themselves to be immensely vibrant and radiant performers, and never before have I seen young men who can communicate energy and grace of this sort with such ease and assurance.

Its looking like I may have a chance to create costumes for them both. Right now, I can't think of anything else I would rather do. I see them both in white or ivory. Savann's stunning "King of the Monkies" dance surely calls for an elaborate neckpiece for a mask to rest upon...not to mention a more attractive performance space than the chartreuse floor of an outdoor tent.

Illenk's sensibilities are clearly suited to something that moves and drapes. I want his garments to become tools that support the already captivating gestures inherent to his style.

The possibilities are endless.

From Above

A nice sequence from Henning.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sights, No Sounds: Part 2

Some new photos, thanks to my great friend Carlos Antunes.

Daily chores in my current favorite color.

One for Ereck. Mauro and I after a pool party.

With my lovely housemate Christina, and my roommate Jay.

Yashi and I get funky at the benefit afterparty.

With German painter Sonia Steidl Kunst. When I arrived in this outfit, Andrey shook his head in amazement saying "Only in the United States can a boy wear this and be ok..."

The cigarette woman from Andrey Bartenov's installation. I helped cut and glue these thousands of cigarette's onto Andrey's loyal and understanding friend.

A night at the beach.

Fellow artists and I on the night of the benefit.

Mr. Lou Reed with his party poopin' pup.

Bob creating a drawing to help explain the conceptual underpinnings of Watermill.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Our REALstAGE presentation/performance today was a success. All of the participants in the program came to watch, and I was able to present my first foray into theatre costume design to a group of artists. I'm considering these pieces sketches. The workshop format is perfect for this sort of exploration, and I think I have stumbled upon a few ideas that I may develop further and with more refinement.

All three pieces started as men's button-down dress shirts. I modified the color and cut of the shirts for the two men, and completely deconstructed one piece for the sake of converting it into this asymmetrical dress for Uung to dance in.

For Andreas' shirt (which you can see in the large wall projection) I revisited a large spiral collar shape, this time inserting red satin-finish cotton in as ruffle that spilled out. The love triangle of the plot called for this color, and the character's heartache seemed best represented by spilling out of the top of his geometric collar.

And, I am proud to say that Bob felt "the costumes were great!" This is good news, and I am glad he felt these prototypes were worth mentioning in his analysis of our project.

My new friend Gwen Van Den Eijnde, a French clothing designer and performance artist, had a hand in all of these pieces as well. I suspect he and I will have a chance to collaborate again soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

REALstAGE and Sweet Honey

Creative work has finally begun. I am part of a workshop here called REALstAGE led by architect Christina Back and choreographer Helle Bach, two lovely Danish women who have proposed a project that looks for a means to incorporate cell phones, text messages, and digital video media into contemporary theatre.

The mission states that "REALstAGE's new stage form investigates how the technical communication tools can be used to challenge the physical interaction between the audience and the performer/dancer across time and space."

Its a lovely project and I'm glad I'm on board. I will be designing 3 costumes, and styling another 10 or so for the workshop's presentation on Monday.

Though I must say, better than all else has been our 3 day singing workshop with Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, the founding member of Sweet Honey In The Rock. Dr. Reagon, along with Marcelle Davies Lashley, Josette Newsome, Jason (sorry Jason, never learned your last name...but boy can you sing!) and Toshi Reagon led us all in song every afternoon for 2 hours. In general, there is no music at Watermill. Bob thrives on silence and its an important part of what happens here. Thankfully, we were all given a chance to make a joyful noise with the help of some of the most kind, open minded and beautiful singers I have ever had a chance to spend time with.

Black music has an incredible power to bring people together, and singing these songs side by side with my new friends from all over the world was a truly incredible experience. I'll never forget it.

Come and go with me to that land...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Burn The Books On Theatre Decoration!" -R.W.

These were the words of Bob Wilson this morning during our daily meeting. As a grandson of modernism, Wilson's agenda is clear: remove all visual embellishment, decoration, decorum, and superfluous detail to reveal the essence of the things that exist in that space. Watermill is a testament to this idea. The materials the building is made of are industrial and visually simple. The imposed palette does not extend beyond black, white and grey. Geometry prevails and gives the structures their strength; ornament has no home.

While introducing the projects we will begin working on over the next weeks, he relayed a story of seeing the thesis work of a theatre student from Yale who found her focus in theatre decoration. While I dont know anything more about this student's project, I assume it focused in any number of aspects of decorating the stage to aid a performance. Drapery, complex lighting, stage furniture, spacial illusions with sets, etc were all surely part of her dialogue. Wilson could not have seemed more bothered by this notion, which initiated his proclamation.

I, in turn, could not have been more bothered by his suggestion. While I have not given much thought to the decoration of the stage, I have indeed given serious considering to the decoration and embellishment of any number of other spaces...named the human body. Without decoration I am unhappy. Without color I am troubled. A life void of these things is unsatisfying to me, and without them I see no reason to continue working. They are the most exciting and interesting aesthetic tools I have to work with as an artist and I demand them in excess.

I wonder how Wilson would feel about my sadness. At Watermill I find the most visual satisfaction in the objects that are on display. But instead of showcasing them in his modernist world, I would rather be given an opportunity to step inside of the ornamentation and embellishment. I want to feel like it is wrapping around me and decorating my life by simply being in the space.

As a response I will do a series of drawings in which I set out to decorate Watermill. I want to give it the color, drapery, texture and filigree it deserves. A true physical manifestation of this idea is not possible right now. I don't have the means. But I DO have the means of putting it on daydreams and wishes for Watermill in two dimensions.

I will share them with you when they are done.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lou Reed's Dog is a Party Pooper

Its my day off. In fact, its my first day off since I arrived at Watermill over two weeks ago. I'm writing to you all from the lovely air conditioned Connie V. Gretz Memorial Reading Room at the Easthampton Public Library. The wannabe authentic Turkish carpet is ugly, but the Larsen-esque draperies are quite nice. I wonder if Jack did them. Doubt it: he's bigger than this....even if Longhouse is minutes away.

Its our day of rest now that the benefit weekend is here and gone. And, while I'm delighted to have so much stress and work behind me, its a bit sad having it all happen so quickly with little time to realize what happened. But, for the sake of spreading the news, here's what happened:

Celebs turned up. It was fantastic. Sadly, Liza was a no-show. I'm more than let down. I'm doing my best to stay reasonable about the whole thing, though. Maybe one of her gay ex-husbands called with makeup questions that only she could answer and she spent the evening helping a former lover though a moment of personal crisis. Those that DID show up, however, were Kyan Douglas and Tom Filicia of Queer Eye fame. I saw them both from ground level as I was in a lycra body suit on the ground working as part of Andre Bartenev's large white moving sculpture. Tom has lost a substantial amount of weight, and Kyan was shorter than I anticipated. I know people always say this about celebrities...but this was particularly the case. He's about 5'10"...just like yours truly.

Lou Reed was also there, with his dog. And while Lou was donning the air of an aristocrat as though he has been doing it all his life, his dog seemed far more intent on dropping a pile wherever it could. I can not say for sure whether or not a puppy pile actually graced the Watermill lawn, but this dog was definitely ready to go for it.

Isabella Rossalini and Annie Liebowitz were also there, as was Calvin Klein. I didn't talk to any of them. I am proud to say, however, that I was photographed and interviewed by the New York Sun. The conversation with the reporter was initiated by her interest in the shirt I was wearing. I was delighted that the piece drew so much attention that night. Maybe something will turn up. Maybe not.

Overall, the wardrobe of the crowd was dismal. Embarrasing at moments. Had I been able to yield a camera while there, I surely would have photographed some of them foolishness. Once again, I have been given further reason to believe that money cannot buy taste. In fact, it seems as though money is a gateway to poor taste rather than anything interesting or daring. The majority of men were in simple linen suits or semi-formal shirt/pant sets. The women wore sun dresses and their nice jewelry...but again, none of it was memorable or noteworthy. Thankfully there were a few bright spots in the crowd: a man in a pink Nehru-collared pajama set (VERY Little Richard) with a large metallic dragonfly pendant around his neck, and his partner in a burgundy three button suit with a iridescence bow tie. They were a fantastic sight.

The best part of it all, though, was the dance that followed. A mere three beats of the first song from the dj had been played and nearly every Watermill participant was on the dancefloor. No questions asked, no coaxing needed. Europeans know how to party, and they understand that dancing is good for your soul. On top of that, there's nothing better than drinking, dancing, singing and celebrating with friends to mark the end of a journey.

Here are some photos:

The Watermill lawn, littered with white linen and Andre's sculpture.

Abelle, one of the Cambodian dancers working with us for the summer stands in front of Andre's piece. That is my head to the far right.

An indoor performance space.

The front of the building illuminated by torches. We placed something like 600 of them for the event.

Our recently created gallery space for the silent auction. A live auction also happened that evening where people scrambled to buy an unslightly metal cow painted by Alex Katz.

The Watermill archives: a delight!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

For the Good of the Group

Last night kicked off our benefit weekend here at Watermill. While our most gracious donors gathered for cocktails, a catered dinner and private tours by Bob Wilson, the rest of us were huddled across the gravel lot eating pizza...after which were were asked to become invisible...or at least scarce. Heaven forbid the patrons have to look at the unsightly artists that helped make this weekend possible. To my delight, some of the patrons ignored this by leaving the outdoor cocktail lounge and joined us for pizza and beer. They were the ones I liked best.

Liza comes tonight!

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm Gonna Need An Ocean...

I got poison ivy.

What's the Buzz? -or- These Theatre Folks are TOO Much!

The erecting of Watermill's recently purchased 18th Century Indonesian penji stone could not have looked more like a scene from Jesus Christ Superstar. After finally getting over the thrill of seeing it vertical, I am only left wondering of Bob Wilson knows Ted Neely.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Care (To Scratch the Itch of Those Who'd Like It) or (Modesty Sits Aside)

Care packages, pleasantries, sundries, mail and telegrams can be sent to:

Michael Cepress
c/o Watermill Center
39 Watermill Towd Road
Watermill, NY 11976

I will be receiving gifts at this address until August 15, 2006. And of course I will send something in return.

Sights, No Sounds: Part 1

These pots are my favorite things here at Watermill. It is a frequent daydream of mine to line one with tufted upholstery...probably a mid-century floral print...and crawl in for an afternoon nap. They're big enough for this.

Baby Stonehenge. These vertical stones are from all over the world, namely Bali (if I remember correctly) and stand as the primary indicator of Wilson's phallic wonderland called Watermill.

Our kitchen, storage shed, and shirtless Scott.

Fruit in hand carved wooden serving trays and bowls: my only visual refuge from the dearth of color here at Watermill.

Classic Wilson geometry in our south lawn for performances, morning yoga, quiet moments and visual vacancy.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bad Boy

I started this blog with the specific intention of using it as a means of telling you all about what I am doing in New York. Sadly, I feel like I have already dropped the ball and have already been swept up into the antics and madness of Watermill, giving little time to this project. So, for the sake of telling what is up, here goes:

I'm working at the Watermill Center in Watermill, NY...just a stone's throw from Southhampton on Long Island. Robert Wilson runs the show here. He's quite the giant in the theatre and art world, and takes a few months out of every summer to guide between 50 and 100 artists from all walks through various projects, productions, exhibitions, etc. I am here with architects, dancers, photographers, theatre techs, lighting designers, exhibition curators, actors, costumers, directors and painters to work for Bob for the next 5 weeks. Before our creative work can begin, we have to host the official grand opening benefit of Watermill so interested wealthy patrons, celebrities and supporters of the arts can come and see what we do here (and consequently give more money to keep this joint running). I was standing next to Bob yesterday when he was on the phone with Liza Minelli, convincing her to come. She said she would.

That said, I have spent my first week here with a shovel in my hand preparing the gardens. When I have not been doing that, I've a chance to unload trucks, haul gravel and stones in wheel barrows, and pull weeds from muddy areas on the Watermill land. Its a fashion designer's dream, really.

The work so far is not fun. Its not terrible, though. I have found myself repeatedly telling my new friends that "I have been in the throws of academia for 7 years and am ready for a change of pace." Its true. Shoveling shit and making sense of how to properly plant 75 bamboo plants is suddenly somehow appealing to a guy who has otherwise been fondling fabrics in an art student for 7 years.

Good things are coming, though. I have no doubts about that. My roommate is a window dresser for Bergdorf-Goodman and works part time as Robert Kushner's studio assistant. Another new friend is a fashion exhibition curator and designer in Greece who is currently working on a project to showcase his personal collection of paper dresses from the 1960s and is friends with Walter Van Beirendonck. Jascque, Bob's main costumer designs for opera's all over the world and likes my work.

I carried two Donald Judd chairs in my own two hands yesterday.

Summer camp is great. I'll post images tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Store Bought Boy

It was not until today while shoveling mulch and listening to my new iPod (cocked and loaded with all four discs of the new Rhino boxed set One Kiss Leads To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found) that I realized the title of the The What Four's 1960s hit was in fact "I'm Gonna Destroy That Boy" and not "I'm In Love With A Store-Bought Boy" like I had always thought.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Random Bits

-Bob Wilson is left handed, smokes Marb Lites, and wears a size 18 collar and 35/36 sleeve in a Brooks Brothers classic dress shirt. Clearly this is one size too big. Maybe two.

-I have 14 house mates, and cant think of a better way of starting my day than hearing "Good Morning!" 14 times with 14 different accents.

-Its likely that I will be working on projects and making costumes with performance artist Andre Bartenev

-Sometimes hipster gay boys wear patchouli. Who knew.

-German boys are second only in their niceness to Danish girls.

-As it stands any number of celebs will be present at the Watermill Benefit I am currently helping to prepare. Though not confirmed, the list includes Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, Selma Hayek, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Yoko Ono.

-Evidently Bud Spencer, Terence Hill and Lucky Luke are mainstays in the list of Germany's favorite "Americans." I have no idea who any of them are.

-European guys inherently understand style in a way that I fear most American men never will. Something about the fit of their clothes (even if its merely a tee and jeans) and the poise with which they wear their garments is for the most part unseen in the states. I realize I am using the word "style" here in a presumptuous way. Clearly, as a result of their (dare I say OUR) slovenliness, American men have a style of their own. It just happens to pail in aesthetic comparison to our European Brothers. I hope to write more about this soon once I have done more in depth research.