Since its founding in 1992, The Watermill Center in New York has served as an incubator for the performing arts and humanities. Established by the visionary theatre director Robert Wilson and situated in a former Western Union research facility – coincidentally where the first fax machine was developed – the interdisciplinary laboratory has supported countless emerging artists with year-round residency programmes and fellowships as they’ve developed new ideas.

This summer, The Watermill Center will celebrates its 25th anniversary with a characteristically big party on its idyllic grounds on Long Island’s East End. Touted as an ‘enchanted forest and performance art extravaganza’, one can only imagine the different creative interpretations of the theme ‘Time Bomb’ that lie in store.

Watermill alumna Kembra Pfahler performing with her punk rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black at The Watermill Center Pre-Summer Party

Watermill alumna Kembra Pfahler performing with her punk rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Photography: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

Earlier this month however, a group of distinguished guests did get a taster of the things to come at The Watermill Center’s first Pre-Summer Party, held at Spring Place in New York. The two-part evening kicked off with an immersive dinner experience created by the Austrian artist-chef Paul Renner. Starting with a smorgasbord of open-faced sandwiches that the artist served himself, the dinner then moved on to a clear minestrone soup, a hearty short rib stew (topped with gold leaf) and an espresso panna cotta made with Illy coffee, accompanied by a selection of cheeses from Austria, brought over by Renner as well.

After dinner, guests were treated to dancing and a performance from Watermill alumna Kembra Pfahler and her punk rock band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Donning her recognisable red body paint, exaggerated black wig and heavy eye make-up, Pfahler and her troupe of lookalikes pulled no punches while touching on subjects like sexuality, capitalism, the right to bear arms and other hot topics. A colourful collusion of art, design, culture and philanthropy all rolled into one, the evening was the perfect precursor to summer’s main event.