Documenting the American landscape on her bicycle, Lisa Anne Auerbach photographs the exteriors of megachurches. The architectural subjects inspire questions about religion and identity, and bear a striking resemblance to corporate institutions. Printing on a large format printer, Auerbach produced her first issue of American Megazine,devoted the oversized issue to the megachurch.
For many years I was photographing small, free-standing businesses. I was interested in the small business as an idea, an embodiment of a particular American spirit. The places were physically tiny buildings. I photographed businesses like psychics, barber shops, key shops, shoe repair, and the smallest post office in the country. I was riding my bicycle around a lot at the time when I was making the photographs, and I felt a personal affinity to the small structures. A diminutive building in a landscape of big box stores and strip malls is similar to a cyclist pedaling amongst SUVs, pickup trucks, and sedans on a busy roadway.
The megachurch project came out of that. I wanted to photograph something at the other end of the spectrum, both physically and politically. Megachurches come in all shapes and sizes, but many of them are similar in style to corporate buildings, malls, and schools. I went to the churches and only took pictures of the exteriors. I didn’t photograph the inside because I wanted to show what these places looked like in the landscape.
I showed the small business photographs as 30” x 40” framed prints, but I didn’t want to go that route with the megachurch photos. I’ve made a lot of zines, and it occurred to me that I could just make a zine with the images. The pictures are really beautiful though, and I still wanted to make some of them quite large, so I decided to just make the zine as big as I could possibly make it. The largest double sided paper for an inkjet printer is 60 inches wide, so that dictated the maximum paper dimension.
I showed American Megazine #1 for the first time at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery this May. At the opening, two women turned the pages of the Megazine so that visitors could see it in its entirety. I do plan on creating more issues of American Megazine. I like the format a lot. It’s ridiculous, over the top, and is a great way to show a number of photographs in a series.
Featured Image: Lisa Anne Auerbach, American Megazine (Cover), Issue 1, ink and paper, 60” x 39”, 2013