Rolex – Handing down talent and experience

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December 2012

What a line-up! Just imagine, side-by-side, writers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, dancers and artists such as John Baldessari, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Trisha Brown, Sir Colin Davis, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Brian Eno, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, William Forsythe, Stephen Frears, Sir Peter Hall, David Hockney, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Jirí Kylián, Toni Morrison, Mira Nair, Youssou N’Dour, Jessye Norman, Martin Scorsese, Peter Sellars, Álvaro Siza, Wole Soyinka, Julie Taymor, Saburo Teshigawara, Kate Valk, Mario Vargas Llosa, Robert Wilson, Zhang Yimou and Pinchas Zukerman. What unites them, beyond the continents and their respective arts? They have all been mentors in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Dance: Eduardo Fukushima (Brazil), selected by Mentor Lin Hwai-min (Taiwan)
Dance: Eduardo Fukushima (Brazil),
selected by Mentor Lin Hwai-min (Taiwan)
Brazilian dancer and choreographer Eduardo Fukushima, 28, graduated in communication of the physical arts from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo in 2011. He trained with many of Brazil’s leading figures in contemporary dance and created his first solo piece in 2004. More recently, he was acclaimed for Between Contentions (2008) and How to Overcome the Great Tiredness? (2009/2010). Both pieces follow a line of investigation that starts from gesture and movement.

Film: Sara Fgaier (Italy), selected by Mentor Walter Murch (United States)
Film: Sara Fgaier (Italy),
selected by Mentor Walter Murch (United States)
Italian film editor Sara Fgaier, 29, studied history of film at Bologna University and taught herself the elements of her profession. Her first editing job was Pietro Marcello’s La bocca del lupo (The Mouth of the Wolf, 2009), a hauntingly poetic, award-winning documentary. In 2011, she edited Marcello’s Il silenzio di Pelešjan (The Silence of Pelešjan) and Michele Manzolini and Federico Ferrone’s Il treno va a Mosca (The Train to Moscow).

Created in 2002, the goal of this unique programme is, according to Rolex, to “make a contribution to global culture”. It is in keeping with the brand’s tradition of “supporting individual excellence”—a tradition that has found applications in marketing with its many advertisements over the decades honouring personalities well known around the world for accomplishments in their respective fields, as well as in the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. For over 35 years, this programme has supported innovative personal initiatives around the world with the aim of “improving lives or protecting the planet’s natural and cultural heritage”. Since their creation in 1976, the bi-annual Rolex Awards have received 30,000 applications from 154 countries and have awarded 120 prizes.

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is, in a way, the younger brother of the Rolex Awards, although it covers only culture. This year, it has added architecture to its line-up consisting of dance, cinema, literature, music and the visual arts. Every two years, a new advisory board of distinguished artists and arts practitioners creates a list of potential mentors for each discipline. Rolex approaches them and, if they agree to take part, the company works with them to establish a profile of a young protégé they would like to work with. This process is important because each mentor is asked to spend a minimum of six weeks of his or her precious time with the chosen protégé.

Literature: Naomi Alderman (United Kingdom), selected by Mentor Margaret Atwood (Canada)
Literature: Naomi Alderman (United Kingdom),
selected by Mentor Margaret Atwood (Canada)
British author Naomi Alderman, 37, graduated from Oxford in 1996 and received a Master’s in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in 2003. Three years later, she published Disobedience, a novel about the tensions and accommodations between religion and modern life, for which she won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers and, in 2007, was named The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Published in 10 languages, the book was followed by The Lessons (2010), which investigates the power and problems of wealth, and the forthcoming The Liars’ Gospel, a novel about Jesus from the perspective of the Pharisees.

Music: Dina El Wedidi (Egypt), selected by Mentor Gilberto Gil (Brazil)
Music: Dina El Wedidi (Egypt),
selected by Mentor Gilberto Gil (Brazil)
Egyptian singer/songwriter Dina El Wedidi, 24, started composing songs when she was young and during university in Cairo where she studied oriental languages. El Wedidi’s songs are infused with the political concerns of Egypt. From 2007 to 2010, El Wedidi worked as a singer and actress with the El Warsha Theatre Troupe, exploring Egyptian folklore and performing in such unlikely places as a Cairo prison. During this period (2009 to 2010), she also performed classical Egyptian and Arabic songs with the Habayebna band, before establishing her own band in 2011.

The young artists, the future protégés, cannot apply directly to the programme. A panel of experts for each artistic discipline selects a certain number of potential candidates from around the world and encourages them to submit an application. After examination by the panel members, three potential protégés are proposed to each mentor, who then meets them individually before making the final choice. This personal choice forms the basis for the notion of mentoring because, unlike an academic environment that operates with a top-down approach, this programme provides a veritable exchange, a real dialogue, be-tween artists of different generations and different cultures. The goal is to help protégés develop and affirm their own voices, rather than merely reproducing something, as inspiring as it might be.

From a financial point of view, each selected protégé receives a grant of CHF 25,000 for the mentoring year, as well as funds for travel and other expenses. At the end of the year, the protégé is given another CHF 25,000 to be used for a specific project. As for the mentors, they each receive an honorarium of CHF 50,000 for their participation in the programme.

Theatre: Michal Borczuch (Poland), selected by Mentor Patrice Chéreau (France)
Theatre: Michal Borczuch (Poland),
selected by Mentor Patrice Chéreau (France)
Polish theatre director Michal Borczuch, 32, received Master’s degrees from both Kraków’s Academy of Fine Arts and Ludwik Solski State School of Drama, where he currently lectures. Since 2005, he has been directing plays in Polish theatres and at international cultural festivals, beginning with works by modern Polish playwrights and moving to the classics. He is known for mould-breaking productions that often challenge popular trends and tastes. Among his most recent adaptations are Brand. The City. The Chosen Ones (2011), and Hans, Dora and Wolf (2012), inspired by Sigmund Freud.

Visual Arts: Mateo López (Colombia), selected by Mentor William Kentridge (South Africa)
Visual Arts: Mateo López (Colombia),
selected by Mentor William Kentridge (South Africa)
Colombian visual artist Mateo López, 33, spent a year studying architecture at Javieriana University but graduated in fine arts from the University of the Andes. His early studies in architecture equipped him to consider drawing in terms of time and space, and three rather than two dimensions. López is known for setting up his studio in public and for using memories of his personal journeys in his work, which is a trademark of his installations. The installation Viaje sin movimiento (Travelling without movement, 2008-2010) was acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

New this year in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is the inclusion of architecture. The chosen mentor for this discipline is Kazuyo Sejima. She is one of the most remarkable figures in contemporary architecture and was recently awarded the Pritzker Prize, the “Nobel Prize” of architecture, together with her colleague Ryue Nishizawa, with whom she founded the agency SANAA in Tokyo. It was with this agency that she designed the Rolex Learning Center at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne. Rolex was the principal private sponsor of this “library of the future” in the shape of a long wave.
The protégé whom she chooses—an ongoing process whose outcome is yet to be determined at the time of writing—will work with Kazuyo Sejima on the project Home for All that she launched with other famous Japanese architects. Its goal is to provide much-needed housing for those affected by the tsunami that struck the Japanese coast in 2011.

Kazuyo Sejima and the Rolex Learning Center (EPFL)
Kazuyo Sejima and the Rolex Learning Center (EPFL)

For this edition of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, Kazuyo Sejima joins her colleagues from other disciplines, who are Margaret Atwood (literature), Patrice Chéreau (dramatic art), Gilberto Gil (music), William Kentridge (visual arts), Lin Hwai-min (dance) and Walter Murch (cinema).

Source: Europa Star December - January 2012-13 Magazine Issue

The Arts & Watches section comprises the following articles: