Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI)
Rauschenberg’s belief in the power of art as a catalyst for positive social change was at the heart of his participation in numerous international projects in the 1970s and early 1980s, and which culminated between 1984 and 1991 with his Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI). ROCI (pronounced “Rocky,” the name of the artist’s pet turtle) was a tangible expression of Rauschenberg’s long-term commitment to human rights and to the freedom of artistic expression. Funded almost entirely by the artist, Rauschenberg traveled to countries around the world often where artistic experimentation had been suppressed, with the purpose of sparking a dialogue and achieving a mutual understanding through the creative process. Between 1985 and 1990, the project was realized in ten countries in the following order: Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, China, Tibet, Japan, Cuba, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Malaysia, and Germany with a final exhibition held in 1991 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.