Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
The Honeymoon Suite is a collection of work by British photographer Juno Calypso. The artist uses self portraits and created realities to explore gender and the pressures on women about beauty and appearance. this exhibition that was based around her Honeymoon suite work, also had a range of her work from other projects. Using her self as the subject of the work she creates elaborate and visually engaging scenes often using panels shades and challenging colour contrasts.
Posing as a travel blogger she visited a couples only Honeymoon Hotel in Pennsylvania, to access one of the lurid coloured and very kitsch honeymoon suites to make some work. Upon arrival and suprised that she was on her own ( it is a honeymoon location) her tale of being a travel blogger got her access to all the rooms at the hotel. This exhibitions shows that work. Using wigs and costume she created tableau scenes that are thought provoking and at times very strange.
This work builds on earlier work were she created an imaginary alter ego ‘Joyce’, whom she has used to, what the gallery exhibition guide described as:
‘reenact the private underlife of a women consumed by the laboured construct of femininity’
Reading about Calypso’s work online it is clear that she explores societal expectations of women, the role and power of the beauty industry and also the simultaneously comic and tragic in the every day. Influenced by the painstaking preparation that Geoff Wall under takes in his work, there is a complex and well prepared tableau in all the Honeymoon Suite images.
Some of the strange images such as the one at the top of this blog post offer insight into her core theme of women and the expectations of society. Doing eBay searches for ‘beauty’, in the technology section of the auction website, led her to finding a whole range of devices sold to ‘make you look younger ‘or ‘more beautiful’, or so the marketing goes. As part of her tableau approach she uses costume, wigs, location and these strange devices to present a stark message about the inherent absurdity in how some parts of scoria, the media and commerce treat women. This is powerful work that also uses humour engage the viewer to want to see more.
What did I learn from this exhibit and the artists work?
The work very much chimed with part of of Context and Narrative and the notion of “making it up” to tell a wider story.
The work and the youtube videos by the artist gave me some real insight into the notion of ‘personal voice’. there is a clear mission and purpose to Calypso’ work and whether you like it or not her carefully planned and executed created scenes offered me some real insight into a photographer using a clearly defined theme ad the engine of their creative endeavours. Looking at her growing body of work I could also see how she further refines and develops ideas from an initial starting point around the
Calypso arrives at a location with camera, lighting and propose and experiments until she achieves the look she is trying to achieve. the idea of experiment rather than sharp design in advance was very helpful as a concept while trying to complete assignment 5!
The Honeymoon Suite – Gallery Guide, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
Juno Calypso: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmnedKsopaM (Accessed June 2017)
Bouquet, E. (2016) Juno Calypso: Return to the Love Hotel found at: www.port-magazine.com/art-photography/juno-return-to-the-love-hotel/ (Accessed June 2017)