June 24th, 2024
Rauschenberg: Night Post

Night Post, ROCI Mexico (1985)

From April 24 to August 3, 2024, Thaddaeus Ropac’s Ely House in London hosts an exhibition of rarely shown works by the late Robert Rauschenberg. This is the first gallery survey of the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) project since it ended in 1991.

ROCI was Rauschenberg’s effort to foster global cultural exchange.Over the course of the project, he traveled extensively, visiting ten countries that included Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union, where he produced a diverse range of artworks. The exhibition will display a variety of pieces from ROCI, encompassing canvases, sculptures, cardboard works, photogravures, and textiles. These artworks incorporate found objects and imagery such as road signs, dive bars, shrines, timber lots, and Che Guevara, reflecting the political and social climate of the late 1980s.


Red Sunday, ROCI Cuba (1988)

Throughout ROCI, Rauschenberg actively engaged with local communities, collaborating with politicians, artisans, students, and activists. He orchestrated exhibitions in unconventional venues like village churches, sports halls, and youth clubs, attracting diverse audiences keen on cultural exchange. Despite facing criticism, Rauschenberg’s commitment to genuine cultural dialogue remained steadfast. ROCI underscored the significance of fostering dialogue and mutual understanding across cultural and political boundaries.

Rauschenberg personally researched and organized each phase of the ROCI project, meeting local artists and cultural figures before creating new works in his Florida studio. Highlights include Night Post/ROCI Mexico (1985), a cardboard composition with tequila brand names, and Caryatid Cavalcade I/ROCI Chile (1985), a vast silkscreen work.

Rauschenberg: Onoto Snare

Onoto Snare, ROCI Venezuela (1985)

Despite criticism, Rauschenberg’s dedication to cultural engagement was evident through the ROCI project, emphasizing dialogue across cultural and political boundaries. The exhibition prompts reflection on border fragility and the potential of art to promote unity, encouraging audiences to contemplate how art can bridge cultural divides and promote meaningful dialogue and understanding.

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All images via Art Observed.