You’ve probably seen Juno Calypso‘s pink photography all over your Instagram feed recently (if not, where have you been?!), but who is the artist behind the futuristic pictures? Currently exhibiting her latest series “What to do with a Million Years” in London, a collection of self-portraits disguised as her alter-ego Joyce, Juno talks to us about inspiration, colours and time-warps…
How did you first get into art and photography?
I was into acting and drama when I was younger. Then as I became more introverted, art classes became a sanctuary for me. I wanted to be a painter but on my art foundation they forced me to join the photography department. I only painted from my own photographs and that was really frowned upon. So I resentfully practised photography only. In the end I got really good at it, and it was a lot quicker than painting so I never went back.
What does the colour pink mean to you and why is it so important in your work?
It’s hard to say because the interest is so deeply embedded in me. When I was small owning something pink was like having a membership into this fantasy world just for girls. Then as a teenager I would dress in these mad pink outfits as some form of rebellion. Girls were expected to leave it behind in their childhood, so that they could be seen as sensible women and I hated that. So maybe what I’m doing now is a bit like that. If red symbolises love then maybe pink represents suspense, flirtation or yearning.
Your work equally feels retro, but also very futuristic – is there a reason why?
I love that sense of a time-warp. I love walking into a room that takes you by surprise and makes you feel like you’re hallucinating or on the set of a dystopian film. Like when you go to an elderly person’s house and everything is chintzy and old but they’re sat there playing games on a touch screen. I love that.
Would you say fashion plays a big part in your work?
At the start definitely. Going to vintage or charity shops was how I sparked ideas for characters. As things went on the clothing got less and less. Maybe out of convenience. It’s hard enough doing and carrying everything else. Now I’m usually in an old dressing gown or nothing at all.
How do you start working on a new piece?
It always starts with the location. I’ll spend hours, weeks, months trawling online for strange places. Then I’ll start collecting props and bits to take with me. It’s gotten easier now I’ve been doing this for six years. I’ve compiled a lot of nonsense.
Which photographers / artists inspire you?
Any photographer or artist who uses themselves as the subject in their work – Samuel Fosso, David Uzochukwu, Frida Kahlo, Francesca Woodman. I’m also enjoying the work of Charlotte Edey, Naudline Cluvie Pierre, Marguerite Humeau.
What is your all-time favourite film?
I don’t have an all-time favourite but I’ve re-watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Shining a lot.
What are your favourite Instagram accounts?
What advice would you give young people trying to make it in the art world?
It’s better to build a career slowly – it’ll last longer. You don’t need a huge audience straight away, as alluring as that is. It’s more important to work on real life relationships and finding a mentor – a teacher, a curator or another artist who’s ahead of you and has the knowledge you need.
Catch “What to do with a Million Years” at TJ Boulting until 23rd June…