Juno Calypso’s mind is splendid, surreal and slightly strange. And you are now welcome inside it. In her latest venture, The Salon, the acclaimed artist has created a wonderfully weird, immersive installation that takes the form of a beauty salon inhabited by imaginary clients.
After years of intriguing self-portraits featuring the artist smeared in green balm and staring into multiple mirrors, Juno decided to deviate: “My first thought was to recreate one of the rooms in my photographs. But I felt like I would be repeating myself. And do we really need another pink art installation right now? So I started with the colour red. I looked to horror films for references and decided to create a completely fictional space instead.” The uncanny installation certainly differs from her previous projects in its distinct dystopian, cyber-aesthetic. It also incorporates futuristic animations executed by the French design duo Geriko who, she says, read her mind. “I just sent them some ideas and sci-fi references and they blended that with elements of the existing work.” Yet, the new project still draws on her earlier work. Face masks, for example, have been a motif throughout The Honeymoon series and the Joyce photographs.
The Salon takes all the elements we’d expect in a spa and amplifies them to the “theatrical extreme.” Staying true to the original setting was a priority for Juno. “I wanted to focus on the lighting, the sounds, the smells and go really hard with the salon ambience. In order to make the spa scent I blended honey with disinfectant. My favourite bit was definitely making the spa soundtrack. I listened to a lot of eight hour-long relaxing whale songs and ambient panpipe mixes on youtube.” But Juno takes this commonplace context and transforms it into an otherworldly universe. The artist had her head, hands and feet cast to create a silicone doll for the project so it could stand alongside the rest of the masked clientele mannequins. In mixing the familiar with the unfamiliar, Juno produces an alternative reality that disturbs and undeniably intrigues.
Perhaps Juno is pointing to society’s surreal sanctification of beauty. The single life-like mannequin lying in a blood-red room under the word “radiance” could easily be part of a ritualistic ceremony. "There are so many crossovers with beauty and religion. You can see it straight away in the language. Holy oil. Purity. Radiance. Sacrifice. Ritual. There’s that hand cream called Resurrection Balm. I know my hands are dry but I didn’t realise they needed resurrecting from the dead.” Juno’s new installation is both visually magnificent and aesthetically compelling. But The Salon also digs deeper, allowing the viewer to experience her satirical representation of physical beauty as a new cult.
The Salon was produced in collaboration with Melissa and will be on display at the Galeria Melissa in Covent Garden as of today (15 February).