Rolex Names Artists to Work With Kapoor, Eno in Mentor Program

Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Tracy K. Smith
Mentor Hans Magnus Enzensberger with protege Tracy K. Smith. On Saturday, poems by Smith and Enzensberger will be set to music by soprano Jolle Greenleaf, as part of the Rolex Arts Weekend. Photographer: Tina Ruisinger/Rolex via Bloomberg

The Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative named the six 2010-11 artists who will receive financial support while working with a leader in their field for a year.

U.S. poet Tracy K. Smith was selected from three literature finalists and will be paired with Germany’s Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a provocative essayist also regarded as his country’s most important contemporary poet.

“I was about eight months pregnant with my daughter and I got an e-mail from Rolex saying that I had been nominated,” said Smith, 38, in a telephone interview. “I had never heard of it, so I was a little bit intrigued.”

The mentors chose the artist they will work with. Trisha Brown selected Australian dancer and choreographer Lee Serle, 28. Brian Eno, a musician and composer known for his ambient music and producing albums for Talking Heads and U2, will mentor Ben Frost, 30, an Australian-born composer based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

South African artist Nicholas Hlobo, 34, will work with Anish Kapoor. Maya Zbib, a 29-year-old Lebanese theater and performance artist will get mentoring from director Peter Sellars. Palestinian filmmaker and poet Annemarie Jacir, 36, will be guided by Chinese movie director Zhang Yimou.

Proteges will have individually tailored programs, the only rule being to spend a minimum of 30 working days with their mentor.

As part of the Rolex initiative, each mentor receives an honorarium of $50,000. Proteges receive $25,000 plus help with travel and accommodation, and they are eligible for another $25,000 at the end of the year to undertake an independent project.

Scorsese’s Editing Room

Past mentors have included John Baldessari, David Hockney and Stephen Frears. Martin Scorsese’s protegee, Celina Murga, spent two months with him on the set of his film “Shutter Island” and was eventually invited to his famously off-limits editing room.

“The mentors that are chosen, they’re not only great artists but they have to be generous and interested in young people,” said Rebecca Irvin, the program’s director, in a phone interview.

When Irvin started the program in 2002, she wanted Rolex to do something unique in the arts that would have a significant impact on culture and contribute to the world’s artistic heritage.

‘Life and Art’

Smith, who graduated from Harvard and Columbia universities, has been an assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton University since 2005. Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, she has published two poetry collections and has a third coming out in 2011. She will now undertake a prose project with Enzensberger’s guidance.

“I have the opportunity to work with someone who has 50 more years of experience in life and art,” Smith said. “I want to use his guidance to do something new for myself as a writer.”

Mentors and proteges will gather in New York late next year for a gala celebration, at which details on the next cycle of the program will be announced.

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