Bleak and Brilliant: Michael Meyersfeld’s “Discordance”

Known for his stark and sombre imagery, Johannesburg-based Michael Meyersfeld loves giving “deliberately obtuse” titles to his artworks so that the viewer could be motivated to respond to them with personal memories or emotions. The award-winning South African photographer has captured natural landscapes of mountains and lakes, people young and old, and various elements and aspects of our urban reality – trucks, trains, buildings, bridges.

In addition to independent photographs, he has worked out a number of visual collections that serve as philosophical meditations or cultural commentaries. They explore time, transience, social stratification, the corruption endemic to any big modern city, the dark and twisted heart of humanity.

Michael Meyersfeld

“Discordance” is a particularly interesting series. Michael introduces it with the following verse:

discord, dissonance, no harmony here/ war, conflict and strife appear/ in our homes and on the streets/ a place of fear where all men meet/ in our hearts it starts to bleed/ in the name of the god called greed.

Discordance is made up of three interlinked sections: “Urban Disquiet”, “Bent” and “Observance”. Urban Disquiet depicts delusion, despair and nihilism. Bent, the pandemonium of the city. Lastly, Observance goes into rituals and customs, pondering “whether the act or practice of observing or complying with a law, custom, command, or rule ensures a world free of discord and chaos.”

In his professional life, Michael prefers solitude over collaboration. Are there any figures he looks up to? The photographer says, “I am of the opinion that the moment you mention the names of people whose work you admire, viewers are inclined to see things in one’s work that may not have been intended.”

“Also, creativity changes,” he continues, “I have, for several years now, been compiling an ongoing collection of what I call a ‘Compendium of Relevant Photographers’. Each photographer would have a page listing his or her website details as well as a short biography, and a small selection of their works. The reason I mention this, is that I am constantly being re-influenced and revitalised by fresh work. To date, this compendium lists 1054 names. Having said all that, the main thrust of my work is predicated on staged work.”

Here are images from “Urban Disquiet” that – provocatively and unsparingly – illustrate materialism, lust, addiction and folly. Garbage heaps or glittering apartments, what remains constant is a dazed state of mind. And with that, an erosion of definite values. This set of pictures opens with the following poem:

the landscape of danger of lust and greed/ the playground and battleground/ where man fights to feed/ the tapestry woven so pretty and nice/ the flame of the beckoning goddess “entice”.

To see more of “Discordance” and other works by Michael Meyersfeld, check out the URLs below.

Links: Website ( | Wikipedia ( | Facebook ( | Saatchi Art (

Images used with permission.




Two White Bitches


Bare City Comfort




City Prey




The Pool


Party Time