Friday 12: Editor’s Choice: An intense view of beauty, emphasizing its transience.


By Johan Myburg

Transience – Michael Meyersfeld. InToto Gallery, Johannesburg.

Michael Meyersfeld’s refined eye is continuously apparent when one views a new collection of his photographic works.

On the one hand he looks through the eyes of an experienced advertising photographer, which he is. On the other hand the eye of the art photographer shows through careful attention to composition, texture and dramatic tension.

In 2007 Meyersfeld exhibited a collection of monochromatic works entitled “Twelve Naked Men”; last year in his exhibition “Life Staged” his subjects were clothed.

But whether the people he was photographing were nude or not, his lens pierces the skin and exposes the drama of life.

In his current exhibition “Transience”, he sets his lens primarily on buildings and structures; on fleeting moments, as if viewed from the corner of one’s eye, but with planning and experience.

The collection consists mainly of editions of three and four, as if the moment to which the title refers was so cursory that it required to be captured in more than one frame.

The buildings that he photographs are clothed: in thin plastic, cloth or black bags.

But the naked truth of transience (which restoration attempts to resist) shines through. Even the sandstone that frames an elegant door next to the road is weathered (Doorway A, B, C, D).

But the subtle draping and pleating of the plastic, by itself, dramatically increases the sense of transience. It is as if the writing is on the wall for architecture and elegant European structures (several of the photos were taken in European cities); as if they might be swept into refuse bags.

The work “Spazzatura Rome” might portray this issue best: while the scene is dominated by granite and marble it is the rubbish (Spazzatura) that captures one’s attention; also the plastic bottle partially hidden behind the pole of the power box.

The central structure is probably the base of a monument, and only this is visible. In the foreground, next to a light mounted on the paving is a granite post, which acts as a barricade to keep traffic away from the piazza. To the right of the post is plastic litter adjacent to a neatly designed dustbin.

If it is true that a picture can say a 1000 words, Meyersfeld’s Spazzatura Rome tells a 1001 tales. It’s a work of enchanting simplicity and beauty.

Meyersfeld’s portrayal of “Transience” is not morbid.

It is rather an intense stoic wisdom that emanates from this collection: beauty is ephemeral.

InToto is located at 66 St. Andrew Street, Birdhaven, Johannesburg.

Enquiries: 011 447 6543.

Until August 30

Image: Michael Meyersfeld’s picture Spazzatura Rome printed on In-nova photo paper (55.2 x 83 cm).

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