For all of August, artist Ally Brooke wore only yellow. She documented the experience by posting “somewhat crappy” iPhone photos of her daily outfits on a flashy yellow tumblr. Ally explained the blog, in a little box on the page’s left hand side, as “evidence of a lived experience,” but that was it. Intrigued, I emailed Ally to see if she would further detail her project. What I discovered was a Bullett kindred spirit—a radical performance artist challenging the body politic status quo with a great sense of silhouette and humor. Gaga can’t touch this.
Could you tell us a little about yourself? A/S/L/Vocation?
My name’s Ally Brooke. I’m an artist, female, 22, living in Melbourne, Australia. I finished a degree in contemporary dance last year in Melbourne, and consider myself a dance performance artist.
What kind of work does a dance performance artist make?
This year, I collaborated with my friend Emily Robinson, another Melbourne-based dancer and choreographer, to produce our first full-length work, a forty-minute duet featuring 60 bricks and almost 20 minutes straight of deadpan aerobics. We performed it in an abandoned post office. I’m also soon to be featured in the latest Crazy In Love (CiL) magazine. A picture of me dressed in yellow should be bouncing around the website around the 5th of September.
Where did the idea for Yellow come from?
I like to see how far one idea can lead and this project meant I would be engaged in one for a whole month. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of it or what I wanted it to mean. Part of me was trying to question beauty standards and how certain types of bodies are more valid than other bodies. I recently came out as female-identifying. As a trans-person, I’ve had to question my relationship to my body a lot. Our culture privileges being skinny, white, and able to afford labels—this coincides with how much space you can take up, as well as how much people are willing to respect and listen to you. I belong to a community of artists and queers in Melbourne who actively break down such inherited oppressive behaviors. In Yellow, I applied that thinking to the way I dress and present myself everyday. I think it’s interesting that clothes are made and bought to look pretty and fashionable. When I started to deconstruct the ways I dress myself, I realized how boring that is. I didn’t want the tumblr to be about nice photos of me in cool outfits. In fact, I only wanted to use my iPhone to take somewhat crappy photos. It exists to document the work, but the work happened externally with people I’d interact with IRL.
What kinds of comments did you get on your outfits IRL?
One day I walked past a primary school while they were on lunch break, the kids noticed me and one of them started yelling, “YELLOW LADY! HEY YELLOW LADY!” A lot of my friends call me Yellow Lady now.
My favourite colour. I wear a lot of colour in my normal everyday outfits, usually a lot of yellow and pink, sometimes together. The choice of yellow wasn’t a signal or to be interpreted in any way, it’s a colour I enjoy wearing.
Are these all your clothes or did you borrow some?
I did two big thrift shopping trips and reached out to my friends via Facebook to see if they had any yellow clothes. I actually got heaps of clothes lent to me! One friend gave me a bunch of yellow makeup she had but never used. I also had to buy a bunch of cheap white underwear and socks. I stole yellow clothing dye from a fabric chain store and dyed all the underwear and socks yellow. Dyeing fabric involves stirring them for an hour! I bought these really cheap fluro yellow sneakers and wore them almost every single day for the month. I hate them so much now. I never got around to buying a yellow towel, so I couldn’t wear my towel out of the shower. I had to dry myself and get fully changed in the bathroom.
Have you considered doing other colors? You could do the whole rainbow! I would love to hear about how different colors would affect you differently.
If I were to do it again it would be pink. The project wasn’t about colour theory, so I’m not interested in becoming a thing. There’s a guy in Melbourne who carries around this giant fake carrot with him everywhere. People are always taking photos with him and talking to him. I didn’t want to become a fixture like that. I’m thinking about doing it again but for the instructions to be that I can only touch yellow for a month. So, I’d have to get yellow gloves and clothing all lined with yellow and make sure my skin only touches things that are yellow; I think that’s the next step. I’m trying to force myself to question things I take for granted. We’re not taught to question our dress sense. We’re just raised to know that we put clothes on in the morning. Sometimes I wake up and I have no idea how to dress myself. Do I want to impress other people with my outfits or do I want to impress myself? Where did these ideas of what’s good to wear and what’s bad to wear come from? Am I following trends in my subculture? Should I subvert or support them? As a dancer/performance artist, my body is my main interest. I think all oppression happens through the body; it’s saying “my body is more valid than yours.” My work isn’t about fighting back oppression.