Last year, photographer Juno Calypso travelled all the way from her hometown of London to visit a Pennsylvanian love hotel. But the artist wasn’t making this trek to celebrate recent nuptials, as is the case with most guests staying at the honeymoon lodge. Rather, she was prepared to embark on a new photo project all alone, save for her accidentally created alter ego Joyce. Entitled “The Honeymoon”, Calypso’s series of self portraits shot inside the retro resort are a bubblegum-tinged ode to womanhood and finding comfort in solitude.
Though at first glance her images appear to centre on the sweet, a closer inspection reveals the sense of eeriness that lies underneath. The series has received widespread praise, with Calypso winning a coveted spot as one of Foam Magazine’s Talent winners. As a result, her work will be shown along with the other participants at this year’s Unseen Photo Fair.
In preparation for her Amsterdam show, we chatted with the photographer about the emotions that inspired her honeymoon hotel series as well as the history behind her elusive alter ego Joyce.
“The woman who married herself; I love that woman”
On her motives behind featuring Joyce alone in a setting intended for couples:
Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much before heading out. But once I arrived, I began to think about intimacy, solitude, companionship, marriage and monogamy. It made me think about the woman who married herself; I love that woman.
Alone in the suite, I realised how irritating it would be to share the room with someone else. I loved having it to myself. Maybe I’m conveying a woman’s right to be selfish. Who knows?
I would exclusively use friends or models in my previous work, only photographing myself as a stand-in for test shots. To make things less awkward, I’d pull a silly expression or hide my face completely. My university professor once saw these images, and while I expected her to find them juvenile she actually encouraged me to continue. So I created Joyce.
“Veiling the face has a long cultural history, especially with women”
On the reasons behind Joyce’s obscured face:
I have a funny face and it’s always betraying me, so I avoid the situation by covering it up. I don’t mind seeing a bad photo of my body, but an unsavoury image of my face sends me into an existential crisis. Plus veiling the face has a long cultural history, especially with women, and I like the way it segues into that discussion.
On her plans for a worldwide love hotel tour:
I had this grand idea to go to Japan and Brazil, but in the end I returned to Pennsylvania. I booked a room at a similar resort nearby the previous hotel. I just felt like there was some unfinished business lingering in that area.
On what makes Unseen Photo Fair different from other photography events:
The fair always exhibits so much colour and experimental presentation. I’ve been going for a couple of years now, and it was always a show that I could envision my work fitting in with.
For more information on Juno Calypso please visit the artist’s website