Mexico City

A grand finale

For the first time in the history of the Rolex Arts Initiative, the celebration marking the end of the mentoring year was open to the public. Almost 800 people – art-loving Mexicans and nearly 200 international guests – filled the Centro Cultural del Bosque’s Teatro Julio Castillo. And Tambuco, one of the world’s leading percussion ensembles, set the evening off with a stirring introduction. 

This performance was the perfect prelude to the welcome by celebrated Indian film-maker Mira Nair, film mentor in 2004–2005.

Nair thanked Tambuco, a “national treasure in Mexico”, and the many other Mexican artists gathered in the theatre for this unique presentation of the arts. “This is the first time that the Rolex Arts Initiative has come to Latin America, and it is a pleasure to be in Mexico City, a great world capital of culture, for this event,” said Nair. “I find the confluence of Mexico and India everywhere.

“I’m extremely pleased to help celebrate the extraordinary Rolex mentoring programme,” she continued. “I was the first film mentor – my protégé was a wonderful film-maker from Thailand named Aditya Assarat.” 

On a personal level, she remarked: “I come from an ancient guru-shishya tradition – teacher and disciple – and this is the essence of this remarkable programme."

In a moving tribute to the Initiative’s success, Nair introduced a video featuring former mentors and protégés talking about their experiences. The film illustrated how some of the greatest artists of our day have agreed to share their knowledge and experience with young artists who have benefited in unexpected ways. She then acknowledged the many past mentors and protégés in the audience. 

Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex, speaking on behalf of the company, said that the mentors and protégés of 2014–2015 join a growing international network of artists that spans the globe. “Since its launch in 2002, the Rolex Arts Initiative has transformed the lives of 43 exceptional artists at the dawn of their careers by bringing them into extended personal contact with 43 of the world’s greatest creative leaders.

“Rolex stands for quality, for excellence and craftsmanship. Through the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, we hope to transmit these values and demonstrate our commitment to arts, a commitment we will maintain in the future,” she added.

Over the course of the evening, evocative short films were shown illustrating each protégé’s experiences during the mentoring year. Often with deep emotion, the seven mentor and protégé pairs – Peter Zumthor and Glorial Cabral (architecture), Alexei Ratmansky and Myles Thatcher (dance), Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Tom Shoval (film), Michael Ondaatje and Miroslav Penkov (literature), Kaija Saariaho and Vasco Mendonça (music), Jennifer Tipton and Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez (theatre), and Olafur Eliasson and Sammy Baloji (visual arts) – shared insights from their time together. 

New mentors

The new mentors for 2016–2017 were announced by visionary American theatre, opera and film director Julie Taymor, the theatre mentor in 2006–2007, who commented on the “enriching journey” taken by mentors and protégés. She also remarked on her own connection to Mexico through works such as her film Frida. “Mexico has been and continues to be an inspirational mentor to me.”

The seven artistic masters who will spend the next year sharing their insights with seven young talents from around the globe are: David Chipperfield (architecture), Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuarón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance).

While all are titans in their respective fields, two names had the most resonance with the Mexican audience. Alfonso Cuarón, the first Mexican to win an Oscar, and David Chipperfield, the architect of Museo Júmex, which opened to great acclaim in Mexico City in 2013 and today houses part of the largest private collection of contemporary art in Latin America. 

In bringing the evening to a close, Taymor welcomed the new mentors to the Rolex family. “We wish you an enriching, inspired mentoring year to come. Muchas gracias.”