Robert Ashley and Alex Waterman

On View
Second Floor

Performances will take place at scheduled times in the Museum’s second floor Film and Video gallery. Visit the calendar for additional information:

April 10–13: Crash
April 17–20: Vidas Perfectas
April 23–27: The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer and Unknown Accomplices for Crimes Against Humanity


Three performances will take place as part of the 2014 Biennial:

April 10–13: Crash
The world-premiere of a new opera by Robert Ashley, directed by Alex Waterman.

April 17–20: Vidas Perfectas
A new Spanish-language version of Robert Ashley’s ground-breaking “television opera” Perfect Lives (1983). Alex Waterman will direct Vidas Perfectas in its second production phase at the 2014 Biennial. This ambitious live performance will be filmed before a live audience.

April 23–27: The Trial of Anne Opie Wehrer and Unknown Accomplices for Crimes Against Humanity
A “speaking opera” from 1968, in which the main speaker (Anne Opie Wehrer in the original) is asked to publicly answer one hundred questions about her life (by an interrogator offstage). A series of improvised interruptions, diversions, and cross-examinations by two pairs of men and women creates a cacophonous score, with sounds of evasions, sarcastic questions and answers, laughter, and a huge, complex “story” about life as they all have lived it.


Born in 1930 in Ann Arbor, MI
Died 2014 in New York, NY

Robert Ashley has achieved an international reputation for his work in new forms of opera and multi-disciplinary projects. His recorded works, Purposeful Lady Slow AfternoonShe Was A Visitor, and Automatic Writing, are acknowledged classics of the use of language in a musical setting. He is a pioneer in opera-for-television. In Ann Arbor in the 1960s, Ashley organized the ONCE Festival and directed the legendary ONCE Group, with whom he developed his first operas. Throughout the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College and toured with David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma as the Sonic Arts Union. He produced and directed a 14-hour television opera/documentary entitled Music with Roots in the Aether, about the work and ideas of seven American composers. In the early 1980s the Kitchen commissioned Ashley’s Perfect Lives, the opera for television that is widely considered the precursor of “music-television.” Stage versions of Perfect Lives, as well as his following operas, Atalanta (Acts of God), Improvement (Don Leaves Linda), Foreign Experiences, eL/Aficionado and Now Eleanor’s Idea toured throughout the US and Canada, Europe and Asia during the 1980s and 90s. In 1999 Kanagawa Arts Foundation (Japan) commissioned Dust, which was quickly followed by Celestial Excursions and The Old Man Lives in Concrete. In recent months, Ashley has been recording Quicksand, which was first released in novel form by Burning Books. His last opera, Crash, was completed in December 2013. Ashley’s book Outside of Time: Ideas about Music, was published by MusikTexte in 2009, and Kyle Gann’s biography, Robert Ashley was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2012. A large part of his recorded work is available from Lovely Music.


Born 1975 in Portsmouth, VA
Lives and Works in New York, NY

Alex Waterman is a cellist, composer, writer, and teacher. He has completed three books with typographer Will Holder: Agape, Between Thought and Sound, and The Tiger's Mind. They are currently completing a new book on Robert Ashley’s notational scores: Robert Ashley: Yes, But is it Edible?. Beatrice Gibson and Alex Waterman's collectively written and scored film, A Necessary Music, premiered at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program exhibition and won the Tiger Prize for Best Short Film at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2008. His writings have appeared in Dot Dot Dot, Paregon, BOMB, and ArtForum. He designed the sound installations for SHOW and PREMIERE by Maria Hassabi. He teaches at the Bard College MFA program, New York University, and has taught, alongside Will Holder, at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Please note: bios for Robert Ashley and Alex Waterman are written by the artists.