[Y]ou know what they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And that old saying most certainly rings true for subversive photographer Juno Calypso’s latest exhibition, What to Do With A Million Years. The London-based photographer, still in her twenties, has so far in her career crafted a unique and beguiling vision, mixing the surreal with the foreboding to create images that have that strange quality of ‘otherness’ to them. For her latest exhibition though, even Calypso’s wildest dreams were eclipsed when she came across the location that would become the stage for her next project.
Built by the Avon cosmetics giant Gerry Anderson in the 1960s Calypso’s new narrative takes places in a perfectly preserved underground house near Las Vegas, Nevada. Built during the Cold War, when nuclear war was a constant threat between the USA and USSR, the house is technically a war bunker erected to withstand disaster, but on another look is so much more. Erase all thoughts of cold concrete floors and storage cupboard cans from your mind because this is no ordinary blast shelter – instead the perfectly preserved rooms (that have never seen sunlight or outside air) are decorated with pink 60s interiors, crystal and gold features in the bathroom and hand painted murals. There is even a hot tub, swimming pool and a computerised light system mimicking the stars and moon. Even by the bright lights standards of Vegas, this is something else.