A brief look: A transient life by Michael Meyersfeld

By Carien Els 8 August 2011

Our senses are powerful weapons. Captives are deprived of all sensory input to weaken them. And it works – ask Dick Cheney. But the rest of us suffer sensory overload, bombarded ceaselessly with so much we lose sight of the ordinary, simple, mundane things. Thank God for photo-artists like Michael Meyersfeld who manage to halt our headlong stampede and beguile us with simplicity. By CARIEN ELS.

Michael Meyersfeld doesn’t like to talk about his work. “Photography is not a verbal thing”, he says, “Artists have a tendency to use a lot of big words to describe what they’re trying to do when all they really want is for the viewer to look”.

Looking attentively and noticing objects and moments that are often ignored form both the philosophy and the subject matter of Meyersfeld’s latest exhibition named “Transience”.  “You know, we have become singularly unaware of moments. People are always saving money for one day, planning for a holiday, looking ahead to some mysterious ‘someday’. But life is made up of moments, and we allow those moments to pass us by because we are always in this great rush to nowhere.”

Meyersfeld illustrates these frozen moments by capturing scenes the average passerby would classify as mundane or ordinary. A plastic bag caught in the wind, a canvas covering a building site. Everyday objects we would not even bother to notice, Meyersfeld freezes in a moment knowing that its particular movement in the wind, the specific angle in which the light falls upon it will never happen again.

“We have become so urbanised that we are oblivious to both the beauty and the strangeness in everyday things. We don’t observe, we don’t see trees, we don’t see grass, we don’t see anything”.

“Transience” has this almost unnerving effect of making the viewer revel in the crisp and unusual beauty of things one never sees. When asked if he had formulated his philosophy first and gone searching for photographs after, Meyerfeld shakes his head. “No, no, I never go hunting for particular photographs. I just always have my camera with me. And then when I see something that works,my tail starts wagging madly and I just have to have it.” DM

Michael Meyersfeld’s “Transience” will be exhibited at the In Toto Gallery in Birdhaven from the 4 to the 30 August.


Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.

Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.

You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.

So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.

Treasury Probe 1

Malusi Gigaba and Brian Molefe at centre of massive Treasury investigation into Transnet rail purchase

By Ferial Haffajee

"Don’t reinvent the wheel just realign it." ~ Anthony D’Angelo