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Wednesday, 19 March 2014 11:51

Issue 12: TABOOS

We all know those fluid cunning words or concepts that manage to slip through our fingers no matter how carefully we approach them. I speak several languages, but in none of them can I ever truly grasp the meaning of the word 'taboo'. Countless definitions and explanations allow me to circle in on it, to even use or discuss it, but it is never as clear to me as other difficult words like 'love' or 'evil' are. These, in turn, are perhaps as mystifying to others as 'taboo' is to me. That is the nature of words. And 'taboo' is a particularly tricky one. Of course it triggers many associations, all having to do with something hidden, transgressive, dangerous, repulsive, and yet alluring. The latter characteristic cannot be underestimated. The word itself, for me, has the feel of what I assume it signifies for others.

The range of submissions to this issue of Itch perfectly exemplifies the versatility of our TABOOS theme. Images and words flicker on the screen, promising a revelation, but the elusiveness of the theme seems to retain the upper hand. Not surprisingly, most of it is all about sex, drugs, religion and politics, but there are also less obvious explorations. Anything in a given context can become a taboo. For some, politicians and penises don't belong on the same canvas. Others are upset by a picture of a young white woman with braids straight out of a Nigerian hair salon. A music video with a scene of someone urinating might not be everyone's cup of tea. And in the end, who is to say whose feelings and perceptions are to be the yardstick? Itch 12 only complicates matters further, and so it should be, because there are no taboos in a creative space. Or are there?
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Karina Magdalena Szczurek

Karina is a writer and literary critic based in Cape Town.

Website: karinamagdalena.com/
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