Juno Calypso’s Sweet Deceit
Oscillating between the eerie and the glamorous, British artist Juno Calypso’s work is instantly recognizable for its seductive blend of glossy luxury and sinister undertones. Who better, then, to captivate us in Browns Brook Street’s debut immersive room experience, where Juno has created “Sweet Deceit”, an installation which aims to both seduce and unsettle. Below, Juno tells us more...
Slendertone II, 2015 © Juno Calypso / TJ Boulting. From the series ‘Joyce’.
Silent Retreat, 2016 © Juno Calypso / TJ Boulting. From the series ‘The Honeymoon’.
How would you describe yourself and your work?
I describe myself as an artist who works with photography, installation and video. I take self portraits dressed up as this character who is somewhere between a depressed housewife and a monster.
How did you find your way into your art practice? Did you always want to be an artist?
I wanted to be an actor when I was small, but then I got shy and introverted. That’s when art began appealing to me. I did art and photography A Level then studied photography at UAL in London, where I grew up. I was a nightmare until I met a teacher who inspired me to take my practice seriously. That was in 2012, when I started joking around with the character idea. I’ve been cultivating it ever since.
Who were some of your early inspirations?
I think seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Hackney Empire when I was about eight years old blew my brain off its hinges. That recipe of sex, comedy, horror and sci-fi obviously made a lasting impression on me. Then when I was a teenager there were two art books that I wore thin. One was a Taschen book called 1000 Extraordinary Objects. The other was a book of contemporary Japanese self-portraiture by Trolley Books.
Where do you go for reference and research?
Recently, especially when coming up with installation ideas, I’m really into badly made torture dungeons and wax museums. The worse quality the better. Otherwise I’m just on my computer crawling all over the internet for inspiration.
“Sweet Deceit” by Juno Calypso, on display at Browns Brook Street 12th April - 30th June 2021.
Can you tell us a little about the installation “Sweet Deceit” you’ve created for the Browns Brook Street immersive room? What inspired the name?
The design of the room was inspired by the plush carpeted bathrooms popular in the 1970s. It’s completely carpeted from the walls to the bath. Inside the bath is an infinity mirror which makes you feel as if you are staring down into a glittering abyss. There’s also a very lifelike creature in the corner staring back at you with icy blue eyes. The title came from playing around with words associated with the theme of seduction. Then I googled it and found a sleazy romance novel with the same name and knew it was the one.
The work you’ve created for Browns Brook Street hinges on this idea of seducing yourself. Would you say you also look to seduce yourself in your work?
Of course. There’s a horrible person living inside my head who is impossible to impress. I’m constantly trying to seduce that monster.
Is it important that your work seduces its audience?
Yes. I’m an attention seeker and so is my work.
Bathrooms feature frequently in your work. What is it about these spaces that you find so fascinating?
I love bathrooms because they have locks. Nothing says leave me alone like locking a bathroom door. They always have interesting features. Whether opulent or janky, the design always interests me. I think it’s all the water and mirrors. They’re both very symbolic objects of seduction.
What are the parallels between your work/ aesthetic and the notion of luxury fashion?
They’re both frivolous but life would be dull without them.
For you, what is the ultimate act of seduction?
Top image: A Dream In Green, 2015 © Juno Calypso / TJ Boulting. From the series ‘The Honeymoon’.
Visit Juno’s installation at the Browns Brook Street Immersive room, from 12th April - 30th June 2021.
Interview by Georgia Graham
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