Size: 55cm high.
This articulated figure is sculpted in paper clay on a wooden ball jointed manikin and dressed in a variety of ethnic fabric and haberdashery remnants.
She embodies my impression of the spirit of Generation Z.
Gen Z are the youngest group of humans, born after 1995, and range from 0 to 23 years of age.
They are a unique generation for many important reasons, including being the first group of human beings to have no concept of a world without the internet and personal devices to access it. This makes a generation of people who have a wide range of haphazard knowledge and education gained from the school of video tutorial, indeed they are know for not looking up from their screens and engaging with the world around them a lot of the time. It is speculated that as a generation anxiety disorders are extremely prevalent, possibly as a result of the degree of digital connectivity that is their norm.
Young South Africans of this generation are also the first genuinely “born free” people, in more than 200 years.
As a group the data that has been gathered on them world wide indicates a clear set of traits regardless of origin.
For instance, their sense of style is irreverent and individualistic, freely mixing traditional and modern elements in a way that follows no rules. In fact the merit of rules are likely to be assessed via internet searches before they are either accepted or discarded.
A similar attitude can be seen in relationships with older generations. The idea of respect for elders simply because of age, or for authority for that matter, is seen by this generation as a thing to be earned via actions and evidence, not as a given or a rule. I have read studies where their arrival in the boardrooms of the future is nervously anticipated with conflict expected where baby boomers are in the seats of authority. At the crux of this issue lies the fact that they have an inherent understanding of new technologies that puts them in the position of teacher, rather than pupil.
The data also shows that their hopes and aspirations are more likely to be focused on happiness rather than wealth and position and that they are unlikely to be interested in business models that include authoritarian baby boomer styles anyway.
I think they are beautiful and interesting as a group. They are inheriting a broken world with overwhelming problems but we have already seen the power of their voice in the media in response to large issues like the gun laws in the USA. I fear they are also a vulnerable group that is faced with growing mental health issues, addiction and an epidemic of suicide as the answer to the question that is life.
With this figure I celebrate them.
I celebrate their quirky clash of ideas that has to save our world because it's a job laid at their feet. Its now or never. I acknowledge that they are not like the rest of us. They are a whole new type of human being. They are the sum of all human evolution and I believe they can and will change the world absolutely.
Painter and Sculptor