Wallpaper January 2021, #261
elcome to our January issue! In the spirit of new beginnings, this issue is dedicated to the Next Generation, the bright minds and budding talents that have captivated and inspired us.
Among them is artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, who represented her native Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale in 2019, at the age of 26. Her colourful portraits, often in collage formats that recall childhood cartoons and time spent on Tumblr, offer a vivid commentary on gender, sexuality and identity. Alongside a visit to her London studio, we invited Hwami to create a new painting for our limited-edition cover (available to subscribers). The result, titled Plains of the Christmas Cow, is an enlightening example of how technology has shaped the creative universe of digital natives: ‘Unrelated images borrowed from family archives and from the internet meet at junctions on the canvas,’ Hwami says. ‘The viewer is invited to fill in the gaps, much like how we fill and edit gaps of Instagram or Tumblr accounts.’
Meanwhile, our annual Graduate Directory has been reborn as ‘21 Rising Stars for 2021’. In a typical year, our editors would have scoured the graduate shows of top institutions in search of the next big thing. This time round, with many graduate shows cancelled because of the pandemic, we’ve turned to social media (while still calling on education leaders around the world to put forward their finest students). And while we miss the tactility of physical shows, and the in-person encounters that come with them, our increased reliance on the internet has resulted in a line-up that is more international, and stronger than ever before. It reminds us that diversity is more than a moral imperative: it’s a commitment that helps us unleash the full potential of a new generation.
Our 21 rising stars come from a range of backgrounds and perspectives, but they have a common belief in the social impact of creativity. From home-compostable cutlery made from kombucha waste, to an architectural proposal that addresses the precarious conditions of the world’s largest e-waste dump, and a series of photographic portraits that challenge negative stereotypes of Black women, their projects are evidence that their generation has the talent and tenacity to take on the many problems of our time. Eager to boost the profiles of these rising stars, we are publishing extended versions on our digital platforms throughout the holiday season.