Meet photographer Juno Calypso’s alter-ego Joyce: like a Barbie doll, she works a number of jobs, ranging from receptionist to flight attendant, and she boasts a middle-to-high class McMansion with soft pink wallpaper. Joyce is also a slave to products, and is often seen with electronic devices aimed to make her more beautiful. However, despite her work, house, and beauty products, Joyce always appears with a blank expression of utter boredom, though one could hardly blame her. She is, after all, trapped within the confines of the construct of femininity.
Like Cindy Sherman before her, Calypso has created a series of self-portraits that skewer the imposed definitions of being a woman. However, whereas Sherman’s collection of untitled self-portraits have been said to critique representations of women in film, Calypso’s images seem more geared towards the hollowing effects on identity in late capitalism. She does this in two different ways: in “Joyce 1,” Calypso focuses on careers stereotypically suited for women, with a particular focus on the artificiality of the construct, and in “Joyce 2” she is more interested in the boredom of the bourgeois housewife, and her forced position into the role of consumer through advertising and beauty products.
Across both series’, however, is the unyielding presence of reconstruction. While this is perhaps more blunt in “Joyce 1,” where the portraits all appear in front of the kind of overcast background common in studio photography, reconstruction is always apparent in the very act of self-portraiture, which necessarily requires careful, pre-mediated, and elaborate forethought. In this sense, Calypso is successful in reflecting the artificiality of gender construction. Far from truthful representations of femininity, Calypso’s photos reveal the absurdity in forced expectations in identity.