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Ely House, London

Robert Rauschenberg ROCI

Ely House, London

On 13 December 1984, Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) stood before the United Nations to announce his intentions for the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI), an ambitious and unprecedented project conceived for 'making and exchanging art and facts around the world.' Between 1984 and 1991, he travelled the globe with a large-scale touring exhibition with this purpose of sparking dialogue and achieving mutual cross-cultural understanding through artistic expression.

Presenting works directly from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, this is the first gallery survey dedicated to ROCI since the conclusion of the project. Held in London in a moment of deep global uncertainty, the exhibition revisits the project to consider the power of international collaboration and artistic exchange in the 21st century.

Pronounced 'Rocky' after the artist's pet turtle, the ROCI project ultimately spanned 11 countries, with a particular focus on places where freedom of artistic expression had been restricted: Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, China, Tibet, Japan, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Germany (Berlin) and Malaysia, concluding with an exhibition in the United States at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Working with a small team, Rauschenberg undertook research trips to participating countries, where he visited sites of interest and met with local artists, artisans and prominent cultural figures. He then returned to his studio in Captiva, Florida, where he created a body of work inspired by his observations of the material and social fabric of the place. These new works were exhibited in the host country alongside a touring retrospective of the artist's work and a selection of ROCI pieces from previous countries, facilitating cross-cultural dialogues.

Caryatid Cavalcade I / ROCI CHILE (1985) is one of two monumental canvases created for the ROCI CHILE exhibition held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago in 1985. The images of the titular pillars, shaped like draped female forms, are taken from Rauschenberg’s own photograph of the interior of the museum and establish a meta-dialogue between the artwork and the location in which it was first presented.

Compositionally, the remaining vibrantly coloured imagery of Chilean life – also captured through the artist’s lens – is arranged in loose columns to echo the sculptural form of the caryatids.

  • 24.04.2024 - 15.06.2024
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    London Ely House »

    Tuesday—Saturday, 10am—6pm.

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  • Robert Rauschenberg,  Caryatid Cavalcade I / ROCI CHILE, 1985  Silkscreen ink, acrylic and graphite on canvas  352.2 x 655.6 cm (138.66 x 258.11 in)
    Robert Rauschenberg, Caryatid Cavalcade I / ROCI CHILE, 1985 Silkscreen ink, acrylic and graphite on canvas 352.2 x 655.6 cm (138.66 x 258.11 in)
    London Ely House