ROCOCO: The Hearing

July 27th – September 2nd, 2017


The installation The Hearing by RoCoCo was created with a clear acknowledgement of recent events in American politics, journalism, and culture. The work considers the operative root word “hear” and questions whether its definition still holds true for the systems that bind these facets of American society. Is there an action of hearing taking place, or has it been co-opted and twisted so that the system is more about silencing and obscuring fact, ethics, and even morals?

RoCoCo has carefully considered the space the installation inhabits and has postured materials to evoke and meld symbolic, cultural, and utilitarian context. Under the skylight in the middle of the gallery of Mercury 20, they have transformed every day comforting objects such as pillowcases and blankets, and subjected them to industrial processes that call upon the literal and symbolic meanings of the objects. Metaphor, commentary, and a nod to conspiracy theories are all taken into consideration in the placement of the installation’s parts. Invoking sleep, hollowness, and smothering, pillowcases embellished with the word JUSTICE hover over cut pieces of blankets. These pieces have been incised with a laser, and the cutouts are in the shape of letters that spell out the phonetic sound of being silenced. Their massing takes the form of a grand landscape of SHHH.

The collaborative duo known as RoCoCo is comprised of Mercury 20 artist KC Rosenberg  and Modesto Covarrubias. RoCoCo is short for Rosenberg Covarrubias Collaborations (or conspirators, conversations, corporation, coalition, commentators, co-editors, collective, cohorts, you get the idea…) These interdisciplinary artists describe their practice as a dialog of making, and they are interested in the juxtaposition of materials and response to space (architectural and natural) in their exploration of complex emotional states, social justice, and contemporary culture. RoCoCo’s work most often takes form through sculptural installations, but has also included video, performance, drawing, painting, and audience participation. RoCoCo began collaborating in 2015 at Mercury 20 and has gone on to show work at the Oliver Arts Center in Oakland, and the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. In October 2017 they will begin a 3-month residency at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

MODESTO COVARRUBIAS received his MFA in Studio Art from Mills College and BFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. He also studied architecture at the University of California Berkeley. Covarrubias currently teaches at the California College of the Arts.