Make It Indigo! Travis Boyer Dyes Clothes at L.E.S. Gallery

“Do you think my dress is happy in there?” asked a blonde woman in round glasses. She wore elbow-length rubber gloves and was referring to a striped number she’d submerged in a trashcan full of the dark blue dye indigo. That trashcan was the centerpiece of Travis Boyer’s Crocking Off the Bloom, a performance at the Lower East Side’s Participant gallery this past weekend.

Mr. Boyer, in natty, dark clothes and a single glove nodded. “I would leave it.”

Crocking Off the Bloom is an evolution of an earlier piece that Mr. Boyer has performed since 2008, Indigo Girls, and with a similar thrust–participants bring items of clothing, or photos, or wood, to be dunked into a vat of indigo, and Mr. Boyer helps. He used to wear a costume reminiscent of a children’s television program, but for this new three-day work, he opted to go low-key.

“People bring all kinds of things,” he said after a middle-aged couple dunked pairs of panties and a baby blanket into the vat. Likewise, people bring their own touchstones–he’s had people tell him that they see everything from kibbutz to counterculture in his piece. He’d made the dye extra strong for this L.E.S. iteration. “You never know if some punk kids are going to walk in with their entire laundry basket and just dump it in.”

A redhead stood over the vat with the corners of a pillowcase held in both hands to create a groovy pointed effect on the submerged area. Suddenly his phone rang. He glanced around the room for help but none came and that goofy Blackberry ringtone (“doo doo doo doo doo, DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO”) went on and on as he stood at the vat with his pillow.

On the ground near him was a formerly white T-shirt with Morrissey on it, his arm raised tragically away from his face.

“That was great, watching that be lowered in,” Mr. Boyer said. “It was like he was saying ‘nooooo!'”