From a double Oscar-winning film director to one of Africa’s most respected writers, an iconoclastic composer, multi-talented director, renowned architect, visionary choreographer and a pioneering visual artist who has influenced her discipline for more than half a century, the seven Rolex mentors for the 2016─2017 edition are once again artistic giants.
David Chipperfield (architecture), Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuarón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance) will spend a year in creative conversation with promising young talents in their respective disciplines, with support from Rolex.
Hundreds of artists and arts leaders from all over the world who had gathered at the Centro Cultural del Bosque in Mexico City on 6 December 2015 to celebrate the culmination of the 2014–2015 edition of the Rolex Arts Initiative, were the first to learn the names of the new mentors.
A global search is now under way to find protégés who will benefit most from the programme. Each mentor will choose his or her protégé from a small group of finalists in early 2016. The mentoring year will begin in mid-2016.
Asked what she hopes to give to a young artist, renowned American performance and video artist Joan Jonas says, “I hope to have a dialogue that might clarify thoughts and ideas. Also to exchange with another, information previously hidden – and to visit unknown spaces.”
For Mozambican novelist Mia Couto mentorship is about being the person “who can listen and confirm their [the protégé’s] existence. From his side, he is looking forward to recoup “some ingenuity and vitality that we lose when we begin to manage what we create”.
Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage wants to be involved because, he says, “I’ve never experienced it [mentoring] myself and I wish I had.” He describes the opportunity of working with someone from a different culture as “a gift”.
British architect David Chipperfield says that “architecture involves complex and overlapping concerns and skills from the theoretical to the practical. Intentions are often obscured by jargon and inappropriate concerns. I would hope to remind my protégé that the issues that confront us are those that confront us all, we have different tools and methods with which we can contemplate and with which we can hopefully act.”
About the new mentors
Architecture: Driven by an approach to architecture that values “substance, permanence and meaning” above spectacle, British architect Sir David Chipperfield has gained renown for a diverse portfolio. Among his notable buildings are the reconstructed Neues Museum in Berlin, the Museo Júmex in Mexico City and the UK’s Turner Contemporary gallery, recently chosen as a 21st-century British landmark.
Dance: One of today’s most pre-eminent and visionary choreographers, Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, is renowned for pioneering some of the most inventive and intriguing styles of movement in contemporary dance, such as Gaga, his innovative movement language that has emerged as a growing force for both dancers and non-dancers.
Film: Film director, screenwriter, producer and editor Alfonso Cuarón is acclaimed for his masterly, highly original films. Successes such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men were followed by the technically innovative thriller, Gravity (2013), which won Cuarón Oscars for Best Director ─ the first Mexican to earn this accolade ─ and Best Film Editing.
Literature: Mia Couto, one of Africa’s foremost writers, uses creative language to craft evocative poetry, short stories and novels. The Mozambique-born author’s first novel, Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land), is widely considered among the 20th-century’s best African books, helping him win the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Couto was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2015 for his body of work.
Music: Influential American composer Philip Glass is known worldwide for his evocative music that is recognizable by its repetitive structures. The boundary-defying compositions include symphonies, concertos, film soundtracks and operas, the most famous of which is Einstein on the Beach, his collaboration with (former Rolex mentor) Robert Wilson. The Washington Post called it one of the seminal artworks of the 20th century.
Theatre: Demonstrating a virtuosity in every type of theatre craft, Canadian Robert Lepage is an equally talented theatre, opera and film director, playwright and actor whose avant-garde work has captivated audiences worldwide. As head of the multidisciplinary production company, Ex Machina, he has also directed rock shows and circuses, including the Cirque du Soleil.
Visual Arts: Described as a “titan of the American avant garde”, the internationally acclaimed performance and video artist Joan Jonas has made an indelible mark on the visual arts over nearly 50 years. A retrospective of her work was recently showcased in Milan and her new multimedia installation drew huge crowds to the US Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale.