"Cellbound" "Cellbound"

Much has been said about how the pandemic is benefiting the animation industry. Here on Cartoon Brew, we’ve also been tracking how lockdowns have spurred the creativity of individual artists. A new case in point: this video from RAE (a.k.a. RAE BK), in which the New York City street artist “quarantines” himself inside Tex Avery’s 1955 short Cellbound.

In the remix, posted on his Instagram, RAE has composited himself into the classic MGM cartoon, which features Avery’s canine character Butch (a.k.a. Spike) as a prisoner hell-bent on escaping. RAE plays an accomplice to the break-out, deftly dropping himself into spaces in the layouts and weaving his actions around the film’s pin-sharp comic timing. RAE also incorporates graffiti from other NYC street artists into the backgrounds; eagle-eyed viewers might recognize callouts to the work of PK Kid, Giz, Hindue, Mecro, and Elik, among others. Watch it below:

RAE spent two months performing in front of a makeshift green screen in his backyard. The project, a tribute to one of his favorite films, doubles up as a playful riff on the experience of quarantine: the artist is withdrawing from society by retreating into the world of a cartoon, which is itself about imprisonment. In a further self-reflexive twist, Avery’s film draws an analogy between tv screens and prison.

The intersection of confinement and public performance is a theme familiar from RAE’s past work. In 2017, he took up residence behind a storefront window in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he spent a month living and sleeping in full view of passers-by; masks concealed his identity. The New York Times profiled the project at the time.

This Cellbound remix also reminds us of Jack Plotnick’s send-ups of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, in which the actor mischievously inserts himself in Walt’s tours of the Imagineering department. We wrote about the videos yesterday.

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