Art & Art History ETDs


Brett Beatty

Publication Date



During the 1980s Robert Rauschenberg conceived of an art exhibition for which he would travel to different countries and collaboratively create work about the nations he visited. He called the project Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange, or ROCI. He proposed the project as an endeavor to promote peace and understanding by communicating worldly' through art. This research is a case-study of the impact of ROCI at its seventh stop, Havana, Cuba. Following an introduction and a discussion on the mechanics of ROCI, the dissertation moves on to a critical analysis of the ROCI art. The purpose of such an analysis here is to expose the subjective nature of the work and explore how viewers engage with it differently. The final chapter is an examination of the performance art of Aldo Damian Menéndez and other Cuban artists, who I refer to as Cuba's Young Lions, that chose to engage with Rauschenberg at the opening reception in Havana. Menéndez pointed out that Rauschenberg's effort was an act of what Menéndez called 'cultural colonization.' The performance became an indicator that there exists in Cuba a post-colonial condition. Comments and interviews with Roberto Retamar, Antonio Eligio, and Menéndez serve as evidence of this condition and its effect on the exchange. I argue that Menéndez's performance, although powerful and appropriate, was also predictable. It was a reaction that Rauschenberg foresaw yet he followed through with his global project regardless. He had intended the project to exist above the problems and issues we face in transnational communication due to the post-colonial condition. Yet, because of the performances by Cuba's Young Lions we know that Rauschenberg failed in at least this particular facet of his project.'



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Craven, David

Second Committee Member

Buick, Kirsten

Third Committee Member

Andrews, Justine

Fourth Committee Member

Cornejo, Kency

Fifth Committee Member

Baackmann, Susanne

Sixth Committee Member

Craven, David


Rauschenberg ROCI, R.O.C.I.