Juno Calypso is a London based artist working with photography, film and installation and focuses on ‘‘studying solitude, desire and femininity through a dark comedy lens’’. (1) Some of her most recent awards include FOAM talent winner in 2016 and Royal Photographic Society, Vic Odden Award Winner 2018. In this Artist Talk she went through how some of her work came to be and the meanings and process behind them, starting off with her most recent project ‘What to do with a million years’ 2017-18. For this project she went to Las Vegas to stay in a unique and quirky house that would become the location for her series of work. Calypso ended up staying for a few days and producing some of her most successful pieces highlighting validation for ‘‘being pretty’’.
She expressed she works as a solo photographer and needs privacy to get work done which can mostly help but also hinder her creation process. Calypso mentioned she was inspired by experience and memory linking back to her family and investment in colour. She created her character called ‘Joyce’ back in 2011 (which I will further go into) and she plays a major role in the cinematic-like shots Calypso creates. In more detail, she mentions about colour grading and how she manipulates this within her work but more importantly, in relation to my work, how she emphasises using a singular colour for purpose. For example, we can see in her photograph ‘Immortal bodies’ 2018 (3) how the colour blue is predominantly used. In addition, Calypso explains the use of baby pink unintentionally links back to her childhood being influenced by Barbie dolls and was a natural decision such as in her work ‘If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?’2016. (4) This links with my work as I am tending to focus on the colour red (specifically crimson) just as Calypso chooses baby pink, my chose is slightly different as it is more subtle in the background whereas hers is more bold. However, I would like to explore using the colour red in a more delicate way, as Calypso does with pink, to contrast with the meaning I am pushing behind it.
Calypso also created a book by the same title and produced an installation based on the fantastical house she stayed at, emulating its 70’s retro feel. She was very honest opening up about how there is more struggle after your success and peak and that the struggle actually makes your art better so not to dwell upon minor breaks.
Her ‘breakthrough project’ as she put it was her ‘Joyce’ series she created from 2011-2014 (5). The whole process behind this series was freedom and not taking the pictures (and herself) seriously, focusing on identity and that the women in the photos were herself but also not. Calypso expressed how comedy and humour are a massive part of her identity so wanted to explore this in a new and exciting way linking together the ‘‘spooky, sad and the funny’’.
She went on to describe how her inspiration came massively from her grandmother, as well as her dad and grandad who were both photographers themselves. But the main emphasis was on how criticised women who choose to be feminine and who express their femininity are. This is where also I feel my work relates to Calypso’s as she explains how women, like her grandmother, although having this femininity also have an edge, a passion inside that is ‘coated’ by their exterior, so used to being patronised by everyone. This strongly connects with me as that is what the driving force behind my eco-feminist work is based around, how women (feminist or not) have this energy inside that can be undervalued and appreciated. So, although my work and Calypso are quite different, the ideas that occur run parallel to one another.