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.
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.
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.
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)
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:
- Introduction: Is watchmaking an art?
- The cultural track: a discussion with Franco Cologni
- Girard-Perregaux: paying tribute to Le Corbusier
- Breguet’s cultural patronage: miraculous manna
- Vacheron Constantin: Creating a dialogue between art and artisanal
- Hermès - imaginary time
- MB&F – “In watchmaking, there are not enough egoists”
- Greubel Forsey – Microscopic art
- Cinema Paradiso: watches and cinema