RAE’s “The RAE Show:” Looking into an Artist’s Life

Rainer Turim, ‘18

This month, Brooklyn-raised artist RAE started The RAE Show, a project in which the artist lives behind a storefront window in a replica of his childhood room, creating new artwork day and night, living under a mask. The artist, like other recognized street artists, doesn’t use his full name or show his face to the public. RAE’s project, located at 130 Allen Street, started this past Halloween and continued on till Thanksgiving. Known for his wheatpaste posters, stickers, murals, and sculptures, RAE was inspired to create the performance project from his childhood dreams of being watched and commented on. The project was livestreamed 24/7 online and included footage from several surveillance cameras placed throughout the room.

RAE’s transition to living in the space took some time to get used to. “Being out in the window at night in the first couple nights was pretty weird, kind of surreal, because you turn over and you don’t see the glass – you just think you’re sleeping on the street,” he explained. RAE’s room included a bed, television sets,, old toys, completed and in-progress artwork, other furniture and a variety of large handmade masks.

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RAE’s artwork hung up over his bed in the space (Photo Credit: Rainer Turim, ‘18)

Though RAE planned to use the project as time to work and challenge himself, he occasionally invited locals into the space for live music performances and domino playing: “When I invite people into the space, they’re kind of coexisting. We’re not interacting necessarily together – they’re doing their thing and I’m doing mine,” he clarified. In addition to locals, he has also invited the animal rescue non-profit Social Tees into the space. Even with the occasional visits from friends, however, RAE is determined to work independently in the project, having said, “I’m trying to limit the phone calls, limit texts, any visitors and stuff like that so I can really go through what I’m trying to do– otherwise, what’s the sense of it?”

Even so, RAE does find himself getting closer to the glass to interact with the public so that they can see what he’s working on. RAE explained that he hoping to teach himself how to rollerskate. In addition to roller skating, he’s been trying to change himself, he went on to say, “I really hate roller-skating, but I’m figuring this might be a good time to learn some things maybe, go on a bit of a diet, workout a bit, get into a routine.”

The project has been published throughout the press including The New York Times, PIX11 News, and Complex News. In the past, RAE’s work has also made its way onto television shows and news channels. But, perhaps most importantly, his work has remained engrained in New York on mailboxes, walls, and buildings. When asked about planning projects, RAE responded with saying that he prefers things to be open-ended, “things just happen in a better way.” The artist has been sleeping late and working late to create the most out of the less-than-4-week time he has in the space. Even within 8 days of the performative project, the street-artist has seen his work become “looser.” Thinking about leaving the space after Thanksgiving, he speculated that he’ll be a different person, “It’s only day 8 and I can already see that,” he stated.

In looking at the space as a whole, one is reminded of their childhood bedroom. RAE’s process in making the space was to take some of his childhood, his interests, and “quirky little things,” and put them all into the show. He explained the process as “going to make a recipe and picking your ingredients and stuff and just [putting] them in and [mixing] it up.”

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