Forget landfills, donate your trash (and cameras) to this three story behemoth of a structure made entirely out of junk, hidden away in near secret in suburban Austin, Texas!
When I was visiting Austin, I was on the lookout for wild, unusual places that would be perfect as a photo-shoot location (translation: lomolocation). I was told to find out the Cathedral of Junk, a backyard superstructure made out of anything and everything. So, I set off with friends to find this supposed wonderland. What we didn’t expect was for it be literally in someone’s backyard, in the middle of a quiet suburban district of the city. Walking around the house (admission was free), the Cathedral finally came into view. To say that this was unlike anything I had ever seen before was a gross understatement.
The cathedral was at least 30 feet (10 meters) tall, reaching high enough to block out the sun at some points. It has not one but two staircases, and when they say it is made out of everything, it really is: bicycles, typewriters, mirrors, telephones, computers, cars, hubcaps, beer cans, bottle caps, glass jars, CDs, toys, couches, crutches, glass bottles, lawnmower parts, electronic components, and literally tons of scrap metal and wood. There is enough junk that different rooms have begun to appear, some of which have their own furniture to sit upon and gaze at all the pieces of junk covering the walls, ceilings and floors.
Take the ladder up to the second floor and there’s more of the same, only now you begin to get a view of the surrounding neighborhood. Finally, take the second flight of stairs to the spire (yes it has a spire), and look down into the dark, cavernous interior of the structure. It’s here when you realize how normal the neighboring houses are compared to the junk-themed freak show you’re standing on top of. Everywhere you turn there’s something new to gawk at, be it flowers made from carved up beer cans to the mini junk shrine dedicated to “those who can only be here in spirit”.
The owner/creator of the Cathedral, Vince Hanneman, has be building onto since 1988. Over this twenty plus year period, vines have begun to grow all over the building, creating a strange, bio-mechanical vibe to it all. When I asked Mr. Hanneman what I thought was a simple question, “why?”, he just smiled and replied back, “why not?” (Mr. Hanneman also has “Junk King” tattooed on his knuckles).
After my failed attempt to conjure up some deeper meaning from the man, a pair of elderly women approached him and asked if they could donate junk to the ever-growing cathedral, and he happily accepted. This got me to thinking: what about Lomography leaving a mark on this monument to recycling? I call upon YOU, the lomographer, to take whatever old, broken, unused, unwanted camera and/or accessory that you have, and instead of giving it a poor man’s burial (your trash can), why not let it be displayed proudly for future tourists to stare at? The address for the Cathedral of Junk is:
4422 Lareina Dr
Austin, TX 78745
Perhaps leave your lomoname on the camera as well; who knows, if I ever return to the Cathedral (and I definitely intend to), I might spy a LCA or a Diana peeking out at me with your name on it!