Juno Calypso specialises in elaborately glossy photographic set-ups – and has her tongue firmly planted in cheek. Her arch, unsettling photography landed her an appearance in the soon-to-be-launched Catlin Guide 2013, the definitive artistic British Who’s Who of graduate talent. Wonderland dive in.
Your images are pretty decadent. What’s your inspiration behind the elaborate staging and set-ups?
Getting that initial inspiration is definitely the difficult bit. Sometimes I only need to stumble across a single image or a certain object to spark a whole plan. I get a lot of inspiration from found photography, but also from looking at other artists who work in a similar way to myself. I recently came across the work of video artist Julian Rosefeldt, and seeing the work he puts into staging his videos was astounding.
Why do you prefer large format photography?
I’m definitely not a film elitist – but for this project large format feels very necessary. I want people to feel as though they could step right inside the image. It’s a very exciting feeling once you’ve spent hours enveloped in a set to then step back and view it magnified through ground glass – it’s like peeping into a dolls house.
How did it feel to win First Prize at the 2012 Hotshoe Award as well as the Michael Wilson award?
Overwhelming. Both prizes were announced hours before our degree show opened, we were all exhausted and the whole event was very surreal. The judges were the very first people outside of our course to see our finished work – before that you were just locked in this academic bubble and had no inkling as to whether your work was credible. I completely secluded myself during my final year and put everything into the work, and so for a stranger to come in and choose me as a winner, especially out of the wealth of talent in our year, it was a huge compliment.
You’ve got an imaginary alter-ego Joyce, who comes out to play in your images. How did you come up with her?
I was halfway through my degree and had started a project where I’d been planning to dress my friends up in different uniforms and take photographs of them looking moody and seductive. Up until this point my main interest was to create images of women looking hyper-alluring and flawlessly beautiful. One night I used myself as a test model, just so I had something to show in class the next day. This transient moment of clowning around by myself ended up becoming a performance, the reaction from my class was completely new, people laughed, and a character was born.
Are you seduced by artificiality in the same way that Joyce is?
Completely. I may poke fun at it but there’s no denying that I’m wrapped up in it myself. In my late teens I used to have the full works – clip in hair extensions, acrylic nails, fake tan, fake eyelashes. I still enjoy dolling myself up to that level from time to time but after spending 10 hours in heavy, sticky plastic eyelashes on set I never want to wear them in my spare time ever again.
Where do you source your props or find inspiration for your images?
eBay is a goldmine. Sometimes when I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for I’ll just search things like ‘beauty face’ or ‘sexy’ and the things that come up are so unimaginable that they’ll end up inspiring a whole project. Pak’s in Dalston is the best place to find unknown beauty products and other cosmetic oddities.