Rolex celebrates 20th anniversary of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative

For the first time, the company will bring this programme and dozens of the world’s most talented artists who excel in their art to Athens in a celebration of the legacy of 20 years of mentoring

Photo: Rolex

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative holds a special place within the Perpetual Arts Initiative, according to Rolex as it encompasses a distinctive and unique vision of mentoring.

The mentoring programme has become a reference in artistic circles. It provides new artists with the opportunity to be supported by masters in their fields and the confidence they need to recognise and reveal their full creative potential. Additionally, the programme helps safeguard the world’s artistic heritage.

For the past two decades, the programme built a remarkable artistic community that continues to encourage an international dialogue across cultures and disciplines. In turn, this has helpt the Mentor Protégé Arts Initiative realise its main objective: the transmission of knowledge to new generations of artists on a global scale. The Athens event is both a true manifestation and celebration of this life-changing programme.

Festival performances and events

Photo: Rolex

Rolex announced that multidisciplinary performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, installations and discussions will share the achievements and ongoing creative relationships of more than 60 Rolex protégés and mentors. It will fill stages, galleries and public spaces at nine venues in Athens – the cradle of arts and learning – for a full week in spring 2023 with more than 30 performances and events, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

The Rolex Arts Festival, spanning dance, theatre, music, film, architecture, visual arts and literature, and showcasing a generation of outstanding international artists who have advanced their work with the support of Rolex, will be presented to the public from May 26 to 28. A special pre-festival programme, dedicated to the people of Athens and organized to engage Greek artists, arts professionals and young people, will be offered from May 22 to 25.

“To bring the public just some of the wealth of multidisciplinary achievements that have been fostered by the Rolex mentoring programme, we issued an open call to all Rolex fellows to participate by presenting works,” said Rebecca Irvin, head of the mentoring programme at Rolex. “The response was overwhelming and unanimous. We at Rolex are moved and excited by the outpouring of creative energy and the spirit of communal engagement that the fellows will be offering in Athens.”

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Highlights of the Festival

Events and presentations in the Rolex Arts Festival will be offered to the general public at minimal cost, with ticket proceeds going to the partner institutions for their arts programmes.

The activities will include: 

• A group exhibition at EMST (National Museum of Contemporary Art) by the eight Rolex visual arts fellows – Sammy Baloji, Alejandro Cesarco, Masanori Handa, Nicholas Hlobo, Mateo López, Thao Nguyen Phan, Camila Rodríguez Triana and Matthias Weischer – with an introductory talk moderated by mentor Carrie Mae Weems.

• A group exhibition at Benaki Pireos 138 of work by all Rolex architecture fellows – Sahel Alhiyari, Gloria Cabral, Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Simon Kretz and Yang Zhao – with an introductory talk moderated by mentor Sir David Chipperfield.

• A screening in the courtyard of Benaki Pireos 138 of short films by Rolex arts fellows Aditya Assarat, Kyle Bell, Sara Fgaier, Annemarie Jacir, Josué Méndez, Celina Murga, Agustina San Martín, Tom Shoval and Chaitanya Tamhane.

• Two theatrical presentations: The Case of the Stranger by Rolex arts fellow Whitney White at the Athens Conservatoire, with a post-show talk featuring Rolex mentor Phyllida Lloyd, and [÷] v.0.8: Boléro, a solo performance at Ω2 Complex, by arts fellow Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez.

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• Two dance events at the Athens Conservatoire: a performance by Rolex arts fellow Khoudia Touré with an ensemble of Greek and international dancers, and a double bill featuring arts fellow Eduardo Fukushima in a solo performance and a duet choreographed by fellow Myles Thatcher.

• Two music events: a sound installation performance at Megaron’s Trianti Hall Side Stage by Rolex music fellow Ben Frost, and a closing concert at Megaron Gardens featuring ensembles from Egypt, Honduras and the United States led by fellows Dina Elwedidi, Marcus Gilmore and Aurelio Martínez, with a guest appearance by mentor Gilberto Gil.

• Four installation works at the Athens Conservatoire by Rolex fellows Selina Cartmell (theatre), Matías Umpierrez (theatre), Federico León (theatre) and Jason Akira Somma (dance).

• A music commission and performance, Artemis: Fountain, created for the Dancing Fountains at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, by Rolex music fellow Pauchi Sasaki.

• A Word in Your Ear: writings by all Rolex literature fellows – Naomi Alderman, Antonio García Ángel, Edem Awumey, Colin Barrett, Julían Fuks, Julia Leigh, Miroslav Penkov and Tracy K. Smith – read in English and Greek by noted actors, introduced at a presentation in the Athens Conservatoire Amphitheatre and available for digital download throughout the Rolex Arts Festival.

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Additional events

Two special “Sideways Mentoring” events will show how Rolex fellows are now inspiring each other and working in collaboration across disciplines. At Ω2 Complex, film fellow Annemarie Jacir and literature fellow Colin Barrett will present a film script they are developing, with selected scenes interpreted by actors. At New Stage, Maya Zbib (theatre), Lee Serle (dance), and Mateo López (visual arts) will present Listening to the Walls Wear Off Their Colour, a dance theatre performance they have created.

Public discussions presented throughout the Rolex Arts Festival will be:

• New Legacies: Four fellows (names to be confirmed) in a conversation about the social, cultural and ecological impact of their creative work.

• Creative Alchemy: Three fellows and three mentors (names to be confirmed) in a conversation about the elusive yet essential qualities that spark a creative relationship, moderated by Orestis Andreadakis, Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

• Lifelong Learning: Three established artists (names to be confirmed) who have guided and inspired fellow artists, sharing reflections and memories about the people that influenced them in their own lives.

The Rolex Arts Festival will also include a Gala evening at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, where the 20th-anniversary ceremony will feature performances by music fellows David Aaron Carpenter, Vasco Mendonça and Susan Platts, with music fellow Josep Caballé Domenech conducting the El Sistema Greece Youth Orchestra, and the participation of the Greek women’s a capella ensemble Chores.

Pre-festival programme

Leading up to the Rolex Arts Festival, the four-day pre-festival programme (May 22–25) will include day-long workshops, masterclasses, public talks, musical performances and rehearsals, and more, involving dozens of Greek artists, Rolex fellows and mentors including Anne Lacaton, Phyllida Lloyd, Robert Lepage, Walter Murch and Colm Tóibín.

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