Interview with Juno Calypso

Photographer Juno Calypso is lined up to appear in The Catlin Guide 2013. The limited edition collectors item provides a guide to 40 of the most talented artists to have graduated in 2012 from art schools around the UK. Launching at the London Art Fair in January 2013, The Guide has become a vital tool for collectors of emergent art and curators, and provides a platform for young artists. Aesthetica speaks to one of the artists, Juno Calypso, about her development in photography and her future plans.

A: Can you remember taking your first photo?
JC: I’m not sure if it was my first, but my earliest memories of taking photographs was with my Gameboy camera I got when I was seven or eight. It slotted into the back of the Gameboy and looked a bit like an old webcam. It had a rotating lens so you could take pictures of yourself and then decorate them with cartoon stamps, or big eyelashes and lips. It came with a little USB printer which turned your images into stickers. It was an eight year-old’s dream. Me and my friends would mess around with the brightness and contrast and try and look like ghosts, or dress up as characters and name them. I remember the best ones being Shy Girl and Mad Al. Perhaps this is where it all began.

A: Your photos have quite elaborate sets, how do you come up with the ideas?
JC: It’s a combination of spontaneous inspiration and well thought research. Sometimes just listening to certain music will create vivid imagery in my head, or wandering around old shopping centers and beauty emporiums. Grandparent’s houses, hotels and English suburbs are my other favorite places to go to for ideas. But when in need of more specific references, found photographs are perfect. The Internet has done a lot for found photography and it’s made it so much easier to find out small details like discovering what snacks people would eat at a stripper party.

A: When working on an image do you want it to be aesthetically pleasing, to make a point, or to do both?
JC: A bit of both. I suppose the aesthetic is always on my mind – the colours, textures and objects that I choose are very consciously seductive – I like to photograph myself in the same way a supermarket would photograph a cream cake – but I find myself taking the pleasure of the aesthetic to the point of being quite grotesque and distasteful. So in a way the aesthetic is the point. My intention is to make work that summons a mixture of emotions in the viewer – like an uncomfortable laugh. But I wouldn’t say that each image has some kind of strident point behind it.

A: What does it mean to you to be featured in the Catlin Guide?
JC: It’s a very exciting opportunity. I’ve followed the guide for a few years and have always been impressed by the level of work in it so it’s a nice surprise to find myself now being a part of it. There’s a lot of anxiety at the moment about what happens after an art degree, especially after a BA – jumping straight into an MA or a full time job can seem like the only option. To be considered an emerging artist in the UK, it gives you a lot of confidence to persevere and develop your practice with the same enthusiasm you had as a student.

A: What sort of work do you have coming up?
JC: The Joyce project will continue. I’ve just moved into a new studio in North London so I’m planning on experimenting with more installation work and set building in there. For my degree show I produced my first installation, Moist Supreme, a table of party food that included a foot long sausage and a giant slice of cake. I’d like to do something along those lines again but perhaps with things that don’t attract so many flies. I’m also planning a holiday for Joyce. I want to go alone to a cruise ship or resort somewhere, disguise myself and document the outcome with stills and video.

The Catlin Guide 2013: New Artists in the UK is launched at the London Art Fair 2013, 16 – 20 January. It will also be available from Amazon, Culture Label and selected book sellers (£12.99).

1. Popcorn Venus, Juno Calypso, courtesy of the artist.
2. A Modern Hallucination, Juno Calypso, courtesy of the artist.
3. Artificial Sweetner, Juno Calypso, courtesy of the artist.