Falling in colour

book cover of Deborah Levy's The Cost of LivingLast summer, every book I read appeared to be about the colour blue. This year it’s yellow.

I’m currently in the middle of reading Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living. The book has a luminous egg-yolk cover and features a chapter called “Living in Yellow” in which the narrator commits to living with colour by painting her bedroom walls yellow. The novelty quickly fades off. “I don’t know how to live my life in yellow,” she admits. “The yellow walls were driving me mad.”

At the same time as reading Levy’s book, I’ve been obsessively watching the video for St. Vincent’s song “Digital Witness” which begins and ends in a yellow room with no windows that looks like the very last place one would want to live. Is living in yellow possible?

screenshot of woman in yellow room from St. Vincent video

St. Vincent’s lyricist, Annie Clark, admits to being inspired by Pina Bausch’s choreography for Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” “She’s falling over and over,” Clark observed. “I thought it was gorgeous and violent, so I spent a long time learning to fall.”

I am curious about educating oneself to fall and why women artists often imagine such falls in yellow. What does living with colour mean? And why are some colours easier to live with than others?