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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Monday, 07 May 2012 02:00

(In)equality: (Im)possible?

Sometimes I wonder: how would my life be if I could be assured of exactly the same measures of pain, love, lust, fulfillment, success, failure, jealousy, boredom and pleasure as every single other living person on the planet?
Sometimes I wonder: how would my life be if I could be assured of exactly the same measures of pain, love, lust, fulfillment, success, failure, jealousy, boredom and pleasure as every single other living person on the planet? Would it make it easier to get through the crappy things: those flaring jealousies, those bleak moments of being left out, the black holes of having to let go? And, could it make me more detached when I feel that maybe I'm getting too much goodness - why am I so lucky? / why is everything so wonderful? / how did I access such abundance (and so on)?

On some metaphysical level it is perhaps true that we all get our fair share of everything in the final analysis. I like to believe that in the last flickering moments of consciousness that we'll each have just before we die, we'll see it all fall into place and get a picture of balance. We'll get to see a bottom line, an audit of experiences, and see that ours were no better or worse than any others. That mortality and fallibility were coded into each moment of life and that no one was the luckier. We'll realize that we did not miss out on anything: that all gains and losses, each kiss stolen or shared, each success, failure and opportunity was no greater or lesser than those of anyone else. Of course on the material level, this fantasy is complete bullshit. Especially in a city like Johannesburg, my current home, where there is hard evidence of inequality at every corner. Reminders of the gulf between polished privilege and the raw bones of suffering are many and constant. Although we all aspire to a certain notion of equality - enough food, water, education, public health for all - those of us accustomed to the comforts of homes, internet connections, credit cards and full stomachs often indulge the guilt of our positions. Poor us! Having to face that deprivation all the time, and be reminded of how some humans are always more equal than others. No matter how hard we may try to enact equity and non-prejudice in daily life, these values fall apart when faced with another person, also made of flesh, blood and brain-chemistry, who looks you in the eye and says, "I'm hungry. Please. Help me." We feel that guilt precisely because we're not wiling to give up our privileges, because we're grateful not to be suffering like that.

What's the alternative to inequality?

Is the theoretical impossibility of equality (in the absolute sense) simply some thing that we have to accept? Of course not. Because even though absolute equality is not possible (nor desirable - it turns quickly grey, flat and authoritarian, stripping us of personality, creativity and free expression), it is absolutely necessary to continue to fight for progression towards that ideal. I don't aspire to a world in which talent, beliefs and opportunities are exactly fairly distributed across all people. I appreciate that difference in ability and circumstances can allow the human spirit to flourish in beautifully diverse ways.

But neither do I want a world (this one) in which only an elite few gain access to all of the things that make life wonderful, while the rest are systematically deprived of the material resources that are indispensable to happy living and self-actualization. A great passion drives many activists to continue to invest huge amounts of time, energy and expertise into efforts to expose injustice, corruption and the kinds of dictatorial flavours that keep emerging in post-authoritarian 'democracies' like South Africa. We should salute and support those who explicitly devote their lives to fighting injustice, who expose the lies, who take on the rhetoric of those in power, who keep fighting the good fight. All in the name of equality, in the service of the set of ideals that says: access to food for all, access to clean water for all, access to health care for all, access to education for all, access to information and communication technologies for all, access to safe and happy environments for all! More equal opportunities and more sharing of our resources will equal less suffering, right? 

Although some notion of perfectly apportioned equality is neither possible nor desirable, what is, in my opinion, is a world more just and equal than it currently is. And unless we continue to strive towards that, our ideas of equality will remain nothing more than idealistic, metaphysical pipe dreams.

A luta continua!

--- mehita
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Mehita Iqani

I am a member of the ITCH Editorial Board. I have been involved in ITCH since 2003, when I started the publication. I have a PhD in Media Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies in the School of Literature, Language and Media at the University of the Witwatersrand.