archive - issue 13

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  • /

    By Ruth Barker
    On the QWERTY layout of my computer keyboard, the symbol / appears beside the questioning symbol ?. They are represented together on the same key, and
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  • Apartment / Containers

    By Vincent Bezuidenhout
    These diptychs are the start of a series of images I have been working on regarding the visual landscape we choose to surround ourselves
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  • I returned home after my first year in college to discover my younger sister had turned gorgeous. This was a disappointment, but not an
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  • Butterfly

    By Adriana de Barros
    The pupa, a silk wrap of emotionsIsolated, within breathing, wanting to bethe intense pronoun of selfIt is silly to be one's own pronounShe giggles
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  • Collage

    By Claudio Parentela
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  • Drag and Snap

    By Leigh-Anne Niehaus
    This series is inspired by the childhood game of "snapdragon", which allows for simplistic and delightful decision-making through random selections of colour and number.
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  • Evidence of Life

    By Tamlyn Martin
    Below is an extract from a series of 11 poems created in parallel with visual artworks. 5. Memories laced with visceral realityFlooding herThe gentle
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  • Forward! Slash!

    By Travis Lyle
    You think you're a forward-thinking kinda person, do you? Lemme be the one to break it to you, sunshine – you're as lame as the
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  • Human/Nature

    By Lydia Anne McCarthy
    This series explores moments between nature and human beings that are at once idealistic and unsettling. Each picture is an independent narrative, but placed
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  • Immigrants

    By Stanley Onjezani Kenani
    you want to livenothing leaveto liveyou swimor like fresh sardinesyou are packedin boatsyou leaveto live.  you leavegold in the belly of Africaoil in
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  • In Between

    By Tania van Schalkwyk
    Raised in an Arabian land of heat, fire and temper,sometimes the calm of England clamps downlike damp in a bathroom with no windowand a
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  • Letter to the Editor

    By Elan Gamaker
    Dear Sir/Madam I should like strenuously to object to the subject matter ("/") of your current issue. It must first be mentioned, however, that it
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  • Or: a line drawing

    By Gabeba Baderoon
    Pencil and nothing. Her face turned almost entirely away. Forehead, cheekbone,jaw,the bun low in her neck,shoulderand down,the long linejust enoughthen left alone.
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  • p u n c t u a t i o n

    By Ula Einstein
    Einstein works with a diverse range of media, including drawings and installation with fire, thread, and blades. The series of drawings and installations with
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    By Sean Hampton-Cole
    Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?Bob in Bonds?I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...You want extension 125. This
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  • Pretty Babies

    By Peregrine Honig
    With the premise that "/ " presents what is IN and what is OUT, the "Pretty Babies" series explores the fashion industry's well-published and syndicated DOs
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  • River Bank

    By Mario Sughi
    The symbol / is intended initially as a symbol of division. A real or unreal line divides the girl from the water, the girl from
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  • Scissor

    By Charlotte Gait
    There was a time when you and I were connected by iron, acid, vitamin and blood. Where every mouthful I took was with the
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  • Seasaw

    By Sol Kjøk
    Here, the motif is conceived of as a seesaw (the typo in the title is intended, as this drawing is part of a series
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  • Series Seven Up

    By Noel Fignier
    Text by João Branco Kyron, HipnóticaThe collision is imminent and in the fraction of time left, the eyes shut and the vision is superbly
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  • A battle over samoosas between the snobbish Cinderella and a homeless electrician is mediated by Cinderella's boyfriend JJ. The samoosa battle is conflated with
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  • Wayne Porter, freelance journalist, donned his anthropologist's birthday suit and hit the bowling alley. Bar the bowlers hat tipped gently off centre, the man
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  • The Incised Wound

    By Joanne Hichens
    "Please, for me, Dave," I placed my hand on his, and really, no begging, just asked him nicely, "Lay off the booze tonight." Whether
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  • He had been driving for hours through that unstable, somnambulist night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke with a start and
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  • The space between.

    By Mehita Iqani
    It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known. Either/Or. Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd,
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  • Un Hombre Fuerte

    By Tamo Vonarim Written these words are, at times of a subconscious flow – whether they are mine, I don't know. All I know is that I
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  • Unbroken Awareness

    My life is now a floating shellI am a vessel on that river.The storm, the ship, the sea,Whose shores we lost in crossing.  I
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  • Untitled

    By Wilhelm Saayman
    This series of images, made using pen and ink, photographs and Photoshop, explore alternate/dream realities.
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  • Untitled

    By Aryan Kaganof
    /At R550 rand I thought I'd rather die/ My mother: can I trust this woman?/ I thought the Romans were coming, dinkum/ …and always
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Tuesday, 30 September 2008 02:00

Entry to Asterisk Land

By  Mehita Iqani
The door-woman, hip as all hell in hoop earrings, a red-lipped smile and a loose 'fro, aims her permanent marker at my wrist: first she draws a dainty x, then superimposes a perfectly intersecting +. I stop for a moment and contemplate the fresh asterisk marking my skin. How did she know?

Appropriately, I'm just about to enter The Star of Bethnal Green, a venue that, despite its biblical allusions, is about as secular as it gets in the east end of London. The crowd is self-assured and carefully styled. Several women sport half-shaved heads, which, rather than compromising it, accentuates their femininity. A tall, androgynous girl in sequinned briefs, skyscraper stilettos and masses of black eyeliner dominates the dance floor with a series of dramatic moves. A man in a plaid shirt takes a series of photos of a dreadlocked woman dancing with a glowstick. The scene is some kind of neo-punk seamlessly merged with a slightly chic-afrique neo-nineties-funk, underscored by a very addictive, very dirty bassline. A petite blonde with innocent curls is dropping said line, while a voluptuous vocalist with a voice like liquid crystal stands in the middle of the dancefloor with mike cocked, issuing insanely rhythmic expletives:

"Boys, grab your d*cks! Girls grab your t*ts! BOYS! Guuuuurrrrrrlsssss! Make some f*cken noise!"

Behind her, a mural features a military style star painted in neat lines. The lights flare as they spin; the bartenders faces are lit up with flashes of neon as the scene unfolds. Of all the nights that they work, splashing lager and measuring shots, they seem to like this one best of all. A skinny guy wearing a waistcoat and a subtle mohawk pushes past me; I see a star tattooed on his middle finger, between the first and second knuckles. Other punters are marked with felt-tip asterisks like mine, I keep noticing them on hands and wrists among the melee. I am suprised and pleased at the unexpected serendipity. The stars have aligned, so to speak: I've just walked into three-dimensional asterisk-land, days before submissions close for the * issue of ITCH Online. What fun.

The various meta-, sub-, pre- and non-texts arranged here explore every corner and nuance of the intersecting lines (or radiating ticks, as you prefer) of the rather pornographic little symbol that constitutes our theme. As many of the authors and artists point out, the * can represent both the base and the sublime; the footnote and the celestial symbol. It is urbane and flashy, symbolising the big city with its bright lights, but it is also mild and understated – an afterthought, an extra detail, a murmured retort conceived after the opportunity to say it has passed.

Also, poignantly, * seems to speak to a profound sense of personhood – many of the submissions (the visual in particular) focus on faces, personality and the presence (or absence) of loved ones. Perhaps it's something about the elusive twinkle in the eye, the spark of the heart, the dreamy contemplation of understanding the other, that compels this interpretation. I did not know that * spoke to humanness, above all – and for this lesson I am grateful to the many creative minds that have added something to the stellar mix that constitutes this issue. I'm beside myself about it, and I hope that you appreciate it as much as I have enjoyed editing it.

That inked asterisk on my wrist took a couple of days to fade; the flare (and flair) of the creative work of our * issue may have a similar effect.
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