The Artist: Polina Korobova
There’s a certain pretty-but-basic connotation attached to glitter (blame Mariah Carey for that), but not in the hands of this 22-year-old, who will perform an art piece covered in — what else — glitter at this month’s Neon Lights festival. Based here since 2013, she swathes everything from canvases superimposed with family portraits to her entire body in sparkly dust, as well as other materials that look right out of a pink-and-rhinestone-obsessed child’s art kit. Coupled with an unmistakable feminist slant (cue lacy undies suggestively tainted with glitter) and there’s a rebellious edge that recalls ’90s punk icons like Courtney Love.
Other works nod at another definitive, politically charged moment from Korobova’s birth era: the dissolution of the Soviet Union. She blanketed a map of the region with glitter, for example, as a response to growing up in Moscow during those bleak post-USSR years. Describing her art media of choice as something that “effortlessly brings joy”, she says: “(Existing) perceptions of objects can be changed if you place it through a different (light).” Who says that Gen Zs aren’t optimistic?
The Cultural Documenters: Gabe Tan (left) & Christian Julian
What do two Gen Z guys craving for more colour in the way people dress do to get their message across? Go to the hippest fashion events and underground parties thronging with like-minded Gen Zs, photograph the coolest and most stylish, then share them all on their seven-month-old Instagram page @whatsingaporewore. Far from typical portraits of image-conscious, cookie-cutter partygoers, their images capture youths in a distinctive mix of streetwear and vintage posing confidently for the lens.
In an age when preening selfies have become the mark of a good night out, their work brings back the raw, intrinsic glamour of nightlife chronicled by The Cobra Snake in the 2000s and Gene Spatz in the ’70s and ’80s, reinterpreted for the hype generation. The goal, says Tan, 23, is to “cast a spotlight on people who love fashion” and inspire with this personal project, which has since earned commissions from Highsnobiety. And, no, it’s not meant to only focus on Gen Zs or the hype crowd. Says Tan: “We approach people as long as they look good and have an authentic sense of style. Age, gender and the type of style don’t matter. Fashion is for everybody.”
The Makeup Maven: Kellie Tan
Most Kylie Jenners and Gen Z beauty Youtubers of the world might have you think that makeup ought to be sexy, pretty or cute. This 19-year-old, who’s also adept with the camera (she’s behind the two images here, as well as the ones on her Instagram @bykellie), prefers something more “real”. By that, she often means bold strokes in unexpected colours. Think ice blue lippie, graphic blocks of eyeshadow in contrasting shades like orange and purple, or brows drawn with black stitch-like little “X”s.
In short, anything that celebrates individuality and isn’t your conventional idea of beauty. “Makeup is fun and like art to me,” says the Pat McGrath fan. “It’s not so much about being glam, but more about expressing one’s self and being creative with it.”
Instead of ugly or absurd though, her work is playful yet sophisticated thanks to her light, painterly hand, which might explain why she’s a favourite collaborator of other alt-influenced Gen Z creatives like up-and-coming photographer Julian Tan. Created using colours from the latest Holiday collections, this is her first shoot with an established fashion magazine — and we’re sure that it’s far from her last. See below.
Read more on the next page.