This issue features the winners of best of 2015’s Creative Writing programme at the University of the Witwatersrand.

archive - issue 17

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Thelma van Rensburg

Thelma van Rensburg


1. ITCH Online Magazine publication of work, issue 04

2. ITCH online magazine publication e.05

3. ITCH online magazine publication e.07

Monday, 25 August 2014 19:12

Death becomes her, 2014

My work is grounded in a ‘feminist aesthetic of embodiment’ were I aim to present the female body in a way that
will elevate it to a place of power and becoming. The formal qualities of my work therefore include a reliance on
strategies associated with feminist modes of production such as the engagement with the tactility of the painting
medium, layering, subversion and fragmentation. I am, like the artist Leora Farber, particularly interested in representing
the female body as ‘a site of rupture and transgression of the patriarchal order’ through the utilisation of
the grotesque. My creative methods include fashion magazines containing idealised images of women as source
material and the dripping and manipulation of ink on paper. Akin to Marlene Dumas and Penny Siopis, I work
with the immediacy of the flowing properties of ink. I spontaneously react to what happens on the paper at the
moment of execution. My goal is to let the figure ‘become what it wants to be’ thus following my conceptual
goal of elevating female self-representation as a natural flow of power and becoming.
Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

Unfinished Grotesque

This work critiques the 'master' painter's gaze on the female form. The term 'master' was applied throughout the history of painting to an elite group of supposed male genii. These collages use images from these 'master' paintings to literally create grotesque female bodies of fetishized body parts. The use of the grotesque signifies the transgressing of boundaries. Boundedness is a critical feature of the grotesques' relationship with both the beautiful and the sublime. In aesthetic discourse, clear and discreet boundaries are integral to the apprehension of beauty. The grotesque is a 'body in the act of becoming... never finished, never completed; it is continually built, created, and builds and creates another body. The work is thus a transgression of the patriarchal gaze and empowers woman's selfportraiture.
Sunday, 07 November 2010 02:00

Pin-Up smile

Always smile: The most important thing a pin-up girl wears is a smile. Look in the mirror and give your best come-hither glance and top it with a friendly smile. Work it until you give enough of an idea of what's there, but not enough to give it all away.

All images are digitally manipulated collages printed on paper, produced in 2010.
Monday, 15 February 2010 02:00

Existential Angst

Is there a more pressing question than the question and experience of existence...?

Occasionally, late at night, while trying to sleep and failing, I experience an anxiety of existence. I'm aware of my entire body, the entire world, and the whole of reality itself. It's like waking from a dream, or a light going on, or a giant "YOU ARE HERE" sign appearing in the sky. The mere fact that I'm actually real and actually breathing suddenly hits me in the head with a thwack. It leaves me giddy. It causes a brief surge of clammy, bubbling anxiety, like the opening stages of a panic attack. The moment soon passes, but while it lasts it's strangely terrifying.
Sunday, 13 September 2009 02:00

The Masquerade

Masquerade, can be analyzed as an extension of identity. The Oxford English dictionary does not make much distinction between mask, disguise and masquerade in intention or definition.

The mask is partial covering; disguise is full covering; masquerade is deliberate covering. The mask hints; disguise erases from view; masquerade overstates. The mask is an accessory; disguise is a portrait; masquerade is a caricature... Indeed even in the dictionary definitions, the word 'disguise' appears in all three.        

Therefore, masquerade, mask and disguise all share similarities that become obvious 'through a dialectic of concealing and revealing'. Masquerade:

...calls attention to such fundamental issues as the nature of identity, the truth of identity, the stability of identity categories and the relationship between supposed identity and its outward manifestations (or essence and appearance).

The paradox 'appears to be that it presents truth in the shape of deception... [and thus] reveals in the process of concealing'.