Bicentennial rug in Joe Jr.’s bedroom at home, 2004
American Flag in Garage, 2003
Stacked cars, 2003
Joe, Jr. in his pink ’56 Caddy, 2002
Bumper sticker on old car, 2001
Joe Jr.’s belly, 1998
Eloyse and her son Joe Jr., Easter, 1998
photograph from Joe Sr.’s scrapbooks, date unknown
All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Joe's Junk Yard

Lisa Kereszi's photographic book on family and what's been thrown away

by James Thorne
on 02 August 2012
Joes-Junk-Yard-9.jpg

Photographer Lisa Kereszi has released "Joe's Junk Yard," a new photography book about her family's junk business. In a documentary style similar to her Governor's Island project, Kereszi records the final years of Joe's Junk Yard, a business started by her grandfather, Joe Kereszi, in 1949. Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, the yard was a museum for American detritus. Reflecting on her father's livelihood and her mother's antique business, Kereszi writes, "I was surrounded by junk."

Joes-Junk-Yard-1.jpg

The book starts with Kereszi's grandfather in the form of his collected scrapbooks. Repurposing various materials to create his work, Kereszi explains that her grandfather's obsession represents a person coming to grips with injustice in the world. "My grandfather's scrapbooks were something else entirely, works that clearly fall into the category of outsider art," Kereszi writes. "The loose, tattered books were made of supermarket-bought adhesive-bound pads of multi-colored construction paper." Beyond the scraps, Joe's Junk Yard chronologically tracks Kereszi's documentation of the operation from her high school days through graduate school.

Joes-Junk-Yard-4.jpg

Photographer Larry Fink introduces the book, writing, "A junkyard is not an end run for matter; it is the beginning of a new condition for the curious, cultured and coincidental mind." For Kereszi, the aesthetic of the yard started with people. Photographing her family around the yard with a student's 35mm camera, Kereszi began the long process of documenting Joe's Junk Yard. As the project evolved, Kereszi focused more on still objects and the iconic materials.

Joes-Junk-Yard-3.jpg

"Later, the work starts to get more still and centered on these things that I'm finding and pointing to as things of importance," Kereszi tells CH. "An engine that looks like a heart or a transmission on the ground that starts to look like an elephant's trunk—things that start to turn into something else by me focusing in on them." Part of her motivation for recording the junkyard had to do with the failing business and her uncle's suicide, with the physical objects acting as a manifestation of this loss.

Joes-Junk-Yard-10.jpg

It would be a disservice to dismiss Kereszi's work as merely deadpan glimpses at a familiar subject, with a promient narrative of changing values and the abandoment of the DIY lifestyle shining through the documentation. "It was a part of life that you don't throw stuff away when you're done with it. You reuse it, and you fix it. Whereas today, we live in a much more disposable culture," says Kereszi.

Joes-Junk-Yard-7.jpg

Kereszi wraps up her essay on Joe's Junk Yard with a reflection on objects and inheritance: "I've inherited a lot from the place, from the hood ornaments pried from cars and signage stripped from walls to the ritual of hiding baseball bats behind doorjambs. But I've also inherited the passion for scavenging, for collecting, photographically and otherwise, and a constant need to feel that rare moment of discovery of treasure among the trash, or better, of true meaning and transcendence amid the chaos, pain, and banality of life."

"Joe's Junk Yard" is available from Artbook and on Amazon. See more images of the book as well as image credits after the jump.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue
Loading More...