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The road to awakening — or enlightenment — is punctuated with sharp wake-up calls. Japanese Zen Buddhist masters use a wooden stick, the keisaku (attention booster) to strike meditating monks who have fallen asleep or whose poses are poor. Rather than punish, its role is to instruct. Life supplies many wake-up slaps. For photographer and transgender activist Robert Hamblin, it took a specific form and outcome. The former professional media and arts photographer’s subject matter is “debates around body politics in a postapartheid era”. The exhibition InterseXion at the Iziko National Gallery earlier in 2018 was a collaboration between Hamblin and activist groups The Sistaaz Hood and the Diamond Town Girls. At its conference last year, the ANC resolved to decriminalise sex work. President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Whatever views individuals may hold about sex work, whatever the statutes may say about the legality of sex work, we cannot deny the humanity and inalienable rights of people w...

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