Juno Calypso explores the calming power of pink

Juno Calypso trades pristine aesthetics for blood and mud in a new series inspired by Baker-Miller Pink – a colour reputed for its soothing qualities – as part of a new exhibition coinciding with the Women’s World Cup

Working at the intersection between football and art, OOF Magazine is perfectly positioned to offer a creative take on the Women’s World Cup, which it’s marking with a new exhibition at J Hammond Projects North London. ULTRA: Art for the Women’s World Cup unites the work of eight artists, including painter Lydia Blakeley, multidisciplinary artist Emma Cousin – known for her abstract portrayals of the human form – and pioneering self-portrait photographer Juno Calypso.

From the recognisably groomed hair to the disguised identity, Calypso’s contribution to the exhibition bears her trademark motifs – none more so than her forthright use of colour, which plays a substantial role in her series The Honeymoon and What To Do With A Million Years. However, while her photographs remain staged and hyper-stylised, Sedative Pink sees Calypso step away from her typically pristine aesthetic in favour of blood and mud.

An Unnecessary and Excessive Display of Celebration by Juno Calypso, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and OOF Magazine

Colour is among Calypso’s most powerful tools, and she managed to find an intriguing link between colour and sport that fit particularly well with the context of the exhibition. “I was researching the colour pink and the story of Alexander Schauss came up,” Calypso says of the research scientist who first explored its potential psychological capabilities. “He was interested in how a very precise tone of pink could sap your energy. He did some tests at the Naval Correctional Facility in Seattle, and came up with a shade of pink that he named after the institute’s directors, Baker and Miller.”

Such is the reputation of Baker-Miller Pink that it’s been painted on walls in a prison, a youth clinic and a psychiatric ward as a technique for reducing aggression. Norwich City F.C. even used it to cover the walls in the changing rooms for away teams in the hope that it’d dampen their fighting spirit. However, for Calypso, an aesthetic reason was more than enough to justify her drawing upon this specific tone: “A lot of sports teams bought into the theory as a way of achieving marginal gains, but I find the colour visually pleasing. I realised that concrete changing rooms often look a lot like artist studios, so I turned my studio pink and made the work.”

The jury is out on whether Baker-Miller Pink actually has these effects – Schauss himself received contrasting results when he repeated the study several years later, as have other researchers – but either way, it reprises a soothing role in Calypso’s work.

Sedative Pink by Juno Calypso, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and OOF Magazine
Sent Off by Juno Calypso, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and OOF Magazine

ULTRA: Art for the Women’s World Cup runs from June 14 – July 27 at J Hammond Projects