In Adaptation, a collection of recent photographs to be exhibited at the In Toto Gallery in Birdhaven, renowned Johannesburg-based photographer Michael Meyersfeld aims his lens at a society readjusting itself a little more than two decades after the inception of a democratic dispensation. In dealing with this process of adaptation, Meyersfeld consciously avoids the obvious and draws the viewer’s attention to the nuances of change by means of 17 images staged as social commentary.
“Perhaps these images are no more than a reflection of something we might have seen or remembered, a wry cameo of another, newer, hopefully happier South Africa. A country that still bears scars, but that can unashamedly show them because there is a belief that time will heal,” he says of this collection of black-white photographs.
As a trademark skill Meyersfeld draws on what the viewer might have seen from the corner of the eye; impressions on the periphery the viewer might have archived subliminally. In focusing on these moments, events and interludes he is the astute artist drawing our attention to detail and making us question our preconceived ideas – of transition and change in this case. His photographs draw responses from the viewer smiling inwardly, noting “yes, that’s how it is”, “this is the wonderful, crazy, beautiful, complex and resilient country that we all live in”. That singular moment he captures compel the viewer to pause and to reflect; to mull over, and perhaps facilitate richer understandings of the society we live in.
Lauded locally as well as internationally for his keen eye and ability to capture the specific moment, Meyersfeld observes his subject matter studiously and interrogates the location and use of props vigorously. Yet, his work never seems laboured.
The main body of work is presented on “Duratrans” a translucent-base film presented in light boxes that add a further cinematic dimension to Meyersfeld’s work. These are complemented by seven large, high-quality Fibre Based Silver-Bromide prints. Lodged somewhere between two-dimensional images, stills from a film sequence, and a sculptural installation these works transcend the standard static presentation, allowing for more and lateral readings of the work and lending a sense of the theatrical to his work. As he says: “I create my show. I find my story, my location, my models, and then put them together, but only up to the point where there is still enough room for the viewer to add, subtract or alter his or her interpretation at will.”
Written by Johan Myburg
Opening: 15 June 2017
6 Birdhaven Centre 66 St Andrew Street Birdhaven 2196
Tel: +27 11 447 6543 Fax: +27 86 754 4198