Hiroko Ikegami


New Inspirations, New Conflicts: Robert Rauschenberg in the 1980s

This paper will consider the ambivalent legacy of Robert Rauschenberg Overseas Interchange (ROCI), which he launched in 1984 and concluded in 1990. Consciously visiting countries such as China, Cuba, and USSR, where freedom of expression was limited, he created new works based on local materials and impressions and held a solo exhibition in those countries in order to open up channels of communications between cultures. While the local artists, hungry for information from the outside world, appreciated the project, some of them criticized Rauschenberg as an art imperialist or cultural appropriator. I will discuss this project in relation to the issue of representing the cultural other or one’s own cultural identity in today’s globalized art practice.

Hiroko Ikegami, associate professor at Kobe University, specializes in post-1945 American art and global modernisms. Her main publication includes The Great Migrator: Robert Rauschenberg and the Global Rise of American Art (MIT Press, 2010) and essays for exhibitions such as International Pop (Walker Art Center, 2015), Robert Rauschenberg (Tate Modern and MoMA NY, 2016), Merce Cunningham: Common Time (Walker Art Center, 2017), and Jasper Johns (Royal Academy of Arts, 2017).