archive - issue 15

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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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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 02:00

Writing the lines; Finding ends and beginnings.

By  Mehita Iqani
One thing that we know for sure, observing the devastation in the countries of the Indian Ocean in 2004 and in Japan right now, is that there are fault lines in the earth's crust, and when those tectonic plates shift suddenly, the world as we know it rocks and shakes. The scale of devastation unleashed by forces of nature leaves us stunned and quivering, vulnerable and shocked. How can life be so fragile? How could everything that we rely upon - those roads and bridges, buildings and walls - fall to pieces so quickly?

Crumbling into rubble as a result of the sudden re-shifting of some crack in the pit of the ocean floor and the creation of a tsunami of devastation? It boggles the mind. It reminds us, does it not, that human civilizations are flimsy, that the infrastructures and societies that we take for granted are far from secure. All the lines with which we organize our collective lives are nothing less than a gift that can be removed at any moment by forces far greater than us (let's call them Nature). Things can fall apart.

Beyond infrastructure, there are other ties that bind us. We share the trauma and the tragedy of massive natural disasters. We watch other human beings suffer through the ravages of calamity and we care about them, we give a toss, we weep their tears and send our spare cash to help. Why? Because we are witnesses. Because we are all part of the same species, our lives are parallel. We all have parents and children and siblings and friends. We all have homes and possessions and we all fear catastrophes. These are the lines that connect our hearts and minds across distance and geography, across culture and language. These parallels on a grand scale demand closeness and care rather than separation.

But some lines are violent boundaries that separate and delineate: fences across communities; walls across territories, entry points and checkpoints, access routes managed and brutally enforced. (Oh, Palestine!) These material boundaries reflect cultural, political, social and economic definitions about who belongs and who does not. And how resources should be allocated. Imagine a world without frontiers? (Ah, Nirvana!) A scenario in which human beings can freely flow from place to place is unrealistic precisely because resources are scarce and cultures shape definitions of who is in or out.

Aside from the big political boundaries that trace histories of conflict and inequity, other more mundane boundaries keep our behaviors in check. I believe in asking whether rules, customs, assumptions, beliefs (lines, all of them) trap or liberate, in the lived experience and passions of my simple little life. Do the lines keep something in or stop me from getting out? Do the lines say something is (im)possible? Sometimes it is just a matter of perspective. Everyone lives within an invisible cage - what's yours?

There are many things that we can do with lines. Draw them in the sand with a stick, and then take a photo. Paint them with ink on a page and then show it to someone. Use them to order rebellious words into something resembling a coherent set of ideas. Hang out some dirty laundry. Follow them into the unknown. Watch them shimmer on the horizon. Put them next to one another and colour in between them. The lines that I use to preserve my sanity are tenuous, ephemeral. Their material presence guarantees nothing yet still I try to write between them. And when simulated, I write in lines too. Words fall on to the page in a clear order, from one end to the other, forming sentences (sometimes coherent, at others less so). So arbitrary, this linguistic direction I was born into. Had I been blessed with the genius of a different mother tongue, I would think in lines that run in the opposite direction, or even from the top of the page down (but why never from the bottom up?)

Pure lines have neither ends nor beginnings - but mine always do. So here is an end, and a beginning too. The new issue of ITCH is ready for your perusal.

——— mehita
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