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 else.you 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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  • PATCH

    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
    Sun.star.kid: 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

    By TENDAI MWANAKA
    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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Thursday, 05 March 2009 02:00

Creative currencies vs. False gods

By  Mehita Iqani
Money: what a thing. It can create such extremes of joy or despair – depending of course, on whether one has it or not. I've experienced neither true poverty, nor true wealth – but have glimpsed both, fleetingly, from the sidelines of other people's lives. Fantasized about both lifestyles. Me: sunbathing on a yacht, in the Caribbean. Me: counting pennies in the dreary fog of London to afford a cup of tea. Both are true fantasies. Both are false memories. I have my moments when the world feels wonderfully abundant, and others when it feels dreadfully mean, but overall I have been lucky to avoid the extremes that the states of cash-flush or cash-scarce can elicit. I'm grateful for that luck. But not everyone is as lucky as I. So much about money seems tied to luck – the luck of the socio-economic state one is born into (trust fund millions vs. nothing but an empty wooden bowl to scrape with your tongue), whether markets go up or down, whether and how shares crash, the prices and availability of the things we all desire. I walk past both the beggars on the street and the bankers in their pinstripe suits: at the end of the day, the value of each can be summarised quite simply in the series of digits reflecting a bank balance. Riches and poverties as arbitrary as these are reflected in many of the works published in this issue of ITCH online – the $$$$$$$$$ issue. Of course. This is the best issue yet (forgive me if I say this every time). But there is something about the acuteness of the present "crisis", the popular reawakening of ideas of responsibility and regulation and plain indignation about what we've allowed to happen, which has resulted in a collection of art/textworks that is very provocative, seductive and engaging. And of course, plenty of irony thrown in to boot.

Like every other wired citizen in the world, I've been watching the markets crash recently, and thinking (perhaps like some, but not others): "Let it burn!" Free markets and free trade. Global depression and recession is before us: so what? Its only if you participated in the system that its decline might affect you. If you didn't, if you were always free and didn't own property and/or grew your own vegetables (made your own art, wrote down your ideas/poetry), this crash of dollars means nothing. Let the bankers and the politicians sort it out and leave us alone. But… what if… a bank account disappears overnight? Or one can no longer pay for shopping with a debit card? Or… inflation: one tomato suddenly costs fifty million? Are these fears warranted, or simply the result of becoming accustomed to comfortable cultures and practices of self-absorbed, profit-hungry greed?

I don't presume to have answers, only opinions. So do all of the artworks in image, sound and text assembled here, each exploring some of the contradictions and complexities associated with wealth, poverty, cash, money, currency and more. As always, I'm impressed and humbled by the fact that people want their work to be published in ITCH, for no compensation but the space provided. Let it be said: the dollar is not king here. Neither is the rand queen, the kwacha princess nor the sterling queen-mum. We don't make money nor pass any of it along. We are both wonderfully free and treacherously winging it. But we know that there is a different economy at play here, one that sees value in creative expression and the practice of sharing ideas, artistic insights, thoughtfulness and criticism. Some kind of cultural and creative exchange takes place in communities of expression like ITCH (we are not unique, many independent media experiments aim for and achieve similar goals). Such spaces are not dependent upon old-school, conservative and calculative systems of value determination. May our type of wealth continue to flourish — and may the false gods continue to plummet.
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