Cathedral Of Junk--the name says it all...it is a structure that resembles a cathedral and is made out of junk.
You can find this Postmodernist statement in a private backyard in South Austin, now days, one of the last bastions of the non-commercial spirit of "Keep Austin Weird."
I had the pleasure of having a couple of conversations with the creator himself, Vince Hannemann.
Flabbergasted at first with the sheer amount of detail and intricacy, I was reduced to ask the most obvious and unimaginative question:
"What was the impetus for this?"
Vince, on a perceptible "again that question!?" mood, politely responded something along the lines of: "I just did it for fun."
You can research articles written about this piece of work and find that it is not supposed to have any particular profound meaning.
But I profoundly disagree.
Personally, I have been approached with the question about my art, "What does it mean?"
I can answer in a number of ways, with varying degrees of candor, varying degrees of pretentiousness, or with the canned "Artist Statement."
After all, there is a large degree of truth in the communicators' maxim, "Know your audience."
But it has always been far more interesting and satisfying when someone, instead of asking questions, finds meaning in the art either at a personal or universal level and adopts the art as something meaningful.
It did not take much for me to adopt the "Cathedral Of Junk" as something meaningful. A wonderland of metaphors where I wanted to roam for hours exploring every nook and cranny, and in the end, crawl into one of its crevasses and feel like a fetus in a cozy womb of junk.
Junk Sculpture, and re-purposing junk in general, involves a very interesting aspect that underlines an intangible aspect of Modern life: Transient values.
Value in modern life, is temporary and fleeting. What holds some value today, surely will be discarded in the future. Obsolescence of anything, everything, and....eventually everyone is guaranteed.
Or is it? Junk sculpture shows us otherwise. This activity exposes how the same way society withdraws value from something, an individual can assign values back.
I find the genius of the Cathedral Of Junk in its mocking irony:
All the junk is the product of our highest modern values: science and technology.
Values that doggedly attempted to replace dogma and religion.
To what degree have these modern values failed us?
In the midst of this question stands Vince Hannemann's Cathedral Of Junk--an icon of religion, made out of discarded modern material.
Update Spring 2010:
During the first months of 2010, the Cathedral of Junk entered its final days, and by summer, it was closed by the City of Austin Authorities. For years it survived city officials and threats from people who did not understand Art, but as the saying proclaims: All good things must come to an end.
As the Cathedral has been transformed, semi-dismantled, and closed to the public, these photos are now historic.