"Having already debuted at the Louvre last fall, Robert Wilson’s video portraits of Lady Gaga were no less eerily beautiful when they were introduced to American audiences this past Saturday evening at the Watermill Center. There, at the extraordinary annual benefit to support what founder Wilson calls “a laboratory for performance,” Hamptons patrons took in what are perhaps the most muted and also the most interesting of Gaga’s artist collaborations to date. Where the grandiosity of other projects that coincided with the release of her underwhelming 2013 album Artpop ultimately felt flimsy—notably those taking a page from Marina Abramović and with Jeff Koons—the Wilson portraits present something that feels genuinely different, not only for Gaga but also for art.
One, in particular, sees Gaga embody Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, who was in her early teens when Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres painted her portrait in 1806. With the costume and setting of Ingres’ original exactingly imitated, Wilson and Gaga then go off script in a nearly ten-minute video, a portion of which is seen here, that breathes life into its Neoclassical antecedent—quite literally, in fact, as one barely perceives the slow rise and fall of Gaga’s chest as she respires. Steadily falling teardrops, a swan in slow-motion flight, and a violin-based score further differentiate Wilson’s work from Ingres’ painted original, which was clearly just a starting point for his work with Gaga. Perhaps most remarkable here is the global pop star’s ability to completely disappear into a character other than herself. And actually, after witnessing Wilson’s Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, it won’t sound so surprising to hear that Gaga will appear alongside Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba next month in the sequel to Frank Miller’s Sin City.”