archive - issue 15

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  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • /

    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
    Read More
Chris Thurman

Chris Thurman

Monday, 18 March 2013 21:51

What Good are Manifestos?

What good are manifestos? They don’t change the basic fact: human beings are shits. It took us millions of years to evolve into highly sophisticated but selfish (and paradoxically self-destructive) entities, and I don’t see us changing any time soon. I’ve never quite been able to subscribe to the Hegelian view that incrementally, collectively, we are making progress towards a more enlightened state as a species.

It is just possible that, very very VERY slowly, we are starting to achieve consensus – based on the uncontested principle of minimising harm – about the best ways of organising, regulating and liberating societies. But, as we see demonstrated in almost every South African news headline, principle and practice can be so utterly divorced as to make the former entirely unrelated to the latter.

So again, I wonder, what good are manifestos? Even if we could get everyone to agree to the sentiments expressed in a particular declaration, getting them to abide by those sentiments in their daily actions and interactions would be impossible. And, that contrarian voice in my head asks, would we want them to? What if we persuaded all members of a community, or citizens of a nation, to follow a manifesto? Doesn’t that come dangerously close to brainwashing, or fundamentalism, or even fascism? 


Then a more honest, humble but brave voice speaks up. It tells me that all of these reservations are a form of intellectual posturing – a fence-sitting, passivity-endorsing, nay-saying excuse for not committing to a belief, to any belief.

Antony Cronin has written of Samuel Beckett’s work that it is “full of reservations and uncertainties, denials and admissions that something else might be the case ... Belief – or disbelief – was not something [Beckett] permitted himself. He thought it was better to live, and to admit to living, in uncertainty: better because more honest.”

I have often thought I might adopt this as my own credo (or non-credo, as the case may be). But when you’re living in a society where, let’s be honest, all too often “anything goes” – where rape and pillage and bigotry are allowed to flourish – agnosticism is simply too easy. And that’s why we need manifestos.

Manifestos, I have realised while reflecting on this bold new issue of Itch, are manifestations of courage and conviction in a world of cowardice and compromise. Manifestos are evidence that artists and writers are proud of what they do, what they feel, and yes, what they believe.

So I commend the contributors to Itch e.11 – and I heartily recommend them to you.  

 

Chris Thurman