Jacob Ace photographs his creative community in California

A winner of i-D’s summer school returns with a new portrait series of those close to him.

by i-D Staff
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02 December 2020, 5:37pm

“This shoot for me really represents complete individuality and creative energy,” says photographer Jacob Ace of his latest shoot for i-D, which documents his friends and community in and around Los Angeles. “Each one of them has their own point of view and way of thinking, and to me that is so inspiring to be surrounded and to know people that are trying to make a difference in the world with their art and their voice.”

Jacob’s shoot, he says, is an homage to Gen Z, perhaps, as the photographer describes it, the most diverse and complex yet. “We are making huge changes not only in our desired industries but in the world, and I am so excited to see what we conquer next.” Read them in their own words below. 

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Shay Babashoff, 17, just graduated from Highschool 

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
I would consider this generation to be pretty hyper-social-active if that makes sense. Since we all grew up pretty much online i’ve found that most people i’ve met, regardless if they’re introverted or extroverted, we all feel this burning desire to be involved and active in our community.

What are you working on creatively right now?
A little over a year ago, I started playing the bass, and since then I’ve been super passionate about it. I also enjoy architecture and interior design, so I’ve been spending a lot of this quarantine redesigning  my room and re-furnishing the pieces in my home. I also love painting and making clay sculptures!

What change do you hope to see in the world in 2021?
Something specific I hope to see improve in the coming years is the decriminalization of drugs. Oregon has already taken the first step, which I think is huge in being able to tackle addiction and abuse throughout the state. Once the stigma around drug addiction has broken, we will be able to provide helpful resources to those who need it such as rehabilitation programs and so on.

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Emilia Angotti, 18, designer

What’s it like where you live right now?
I live in San Clemente, CA, it's a small beach town. I've lived here all my life, being one of the only mixed families in this town, I was always treated like I wasn't from here. When Trump was elected, things got super weird and San Clemente really showed its true colors. Red mostly. Neighborhoods are decked out in Trump apparel and it's so disturbing to me. Mostly white people live here so i've always been the black sheep, it's time for a move. 

That being said I live in an insanely beautiful area, while the people that live here aren't the best, it is so easy to get lost in nature and reconnect to mother earth. Natural elements are where I get the most, if not all my inspiration from.

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
I really think the one thing Gen Z has in common is that we’ve only known chaos and trauma in our lifetime, 9/11, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, income Inequality, lack of health care, student debt, climate change, lack of financial safety net, Native American treaties not being respected, white fragility, Hyper-militarization of local police departments, normalization of white supremacy in internet culture, impending civil war,  The death of local news, and the pandemic, this list can go on for miles. Were growing up in the most chaotic of times, where our government is not taking responsibility for its actions. I think most Gen Z’ers believe we are the change, I really hope that's true, we are such an insane group of people and I hope our  power brings a radical change to our democracy.

What are you working on creatively right now?
Right now I'm working on my new fashion line ‘MIMIS WORLD’ . I'm in the process of designing and photographing the clothes I've been making as well as making some backpacks and purses out of stuffed animals from my childhood. My first line is very nostalgic of the year I was born 2002. An ode to my childhood and the year I was born.

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Tatum Marshall, 18, Dancer/Student 

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
Something I feel like my generation has in common is ambition. With the election and recent social issues come to light, I have noticed that my generation will not stand for injustice. We are not afraid to share our voice and exercise our right to vote. Although it is easy to just post on social media and feel like you are making a difference, I realize that my generation is ready to take these issues more seriously. Kids are not afraid to protest, vote, have difficult conversations with the ones they love, or call out adults who may have said something disrespectful. Generation  Z is ambitious, hungry, and unafraid, while at the same time being educated, respectful, and responsible.

What are you working on creatively right now?
Creatively, I am working on my personal voice through dance. As a young dancer, I feel like I have spent my life absorbing information from my teachers and my peers. Although my journey of education and training is not complete, I feel like it is my time to create my own style and my own voice. Once I figure out what my voice is, then I must figure out what I want to do with my voice. I am not 100% sure what my voice is yet, but I know that I want to change my life. Even if it is one life, one dent in the universe, that is enough. I want to INSPIRE.

What change do you hope to see in the world in 2021?
What do I hope to see in 2021? There are so many things that I hope to see! I wish that all of my problems would poof away as soon as the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. However, I know that Covid will not magically disappear, and I know that systemic racism will not all of the sudden fix itself, but I do believe 2020 is just the beginning of a new era of change. Specifically, one change I hope to see is more open-minded people. It is so important to listen in order to learn, not in order to respond. We must come into situations free of judgment and open to new perspectives.

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Calvin Ghaznavi, 18, freshman and filmmaker 

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
One thing that I think our generation has in common is our extreme creativity. Going to an arts school I was fortunate enough to meet so many people with different backgrounds and amazing talents, I’ve been able to make friends that I will be working with creatively the rest of my life.

What are you working on creatively right now?
One thing I’m working on right now is a music video. I want to be a famous movie director one day. The past week I shot videos of my friends dancing in weird locations. I’ve always wanted to shoot dancers, It felt really incredible to be able to fuse our creative visions together and see what came out of it.

What change do you hope to see in the world in 2021?
In 2021 I hope that we, as a generation can use our creativity to better the world. Our generation is so powerful, and creative, and I know that we can all change the world.

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Emma Koo, 17  

What’s it like where you live right now?
At the moment it's pretty bleak in my hometown, everyone seems disconnected from one another despite going through the same crisis. Still I find joy in spending time with my close friends (safely). 

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
Something I feel my entire generation has in common is the spirit to spark change.

What are you working on creatively right now?
Something I'm currently working on creatively is designing  tombstones for my late grandparents. I know it sounds morbid but it actually felt very light hearted drawing inspiration form their past to help inspire. 

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Semilore Ola, 18, writer and multidisciplinary artist

What's something you feel like your generation has in common?
I feel like we’re all very desensitized by the constant onslaught of news of instant tragedy due to social media. Sociologically, Gen Z has faced a lot of traumatic events that are discussed overwhelmingly (the 2008 market crash, The war of terrorism, racial trauma and pivotal LGBTQ+ discourse, the pandemic, a presidency that exposed the sickness of the US system). It’s led to desensitized expressions of  the“difficult”. I’m definitely not one of those people that are opposed to all forms of technology and believed that robots are going to take over the world, but everybody knows staring at a screen and seeing filtered versions of what everybody’s doing at all times is not healthy. People have Identified it but we all participate because it’s a part of our lives now. It’s like cynicism is the new zeitgeist.

I feel like my generation is strangely committed to being cynical and postmodern because of that, identifying social illnesses and finding ways to extract humor from it. Every other meme is like, “who else wants to die guys??” it's like a comically horrifying converter belt we’re all watching go by, and sometimes some of us are stopping to get on it. I think we also all love surrealism, in finding comfort in the world not making sense, which is why our humor is a bit weird. We seem to love the world's impulsiveness and tumultuous nature a bit. We’re all sick of everything and want to observe but also be active participants. Like we've all got a communal thumb hovering over a trigger button, wearing clown shoes. Mad.

What are you working on creatively right now?
After being such a busy student in constant motion, Finally having so much time to sit by myself and figure out who I am and what I actually want to do with the rest of my life has been like catching a bee and letting it buzz around and ricochet in your palms. It's been strange, like probing a bundle of nerves but appreciative at the discovery. In other words, I’ve been spending so much time catching up with myself. I went to an art school for writing, so I spent a lot of time recuperating from the constant activity and using art as release. Observing and packaging a chaotic world is what artists do! I’ve been for a while, since I was small, and only now am I actually working on putting together a chapter book of some of my writing throughout the past few years  out for sale. Handmade and self published! The transition of personal art to commodifiable products is definitely a strange one to move through as a young artist, especially as a woman of color making art, not to mention a black woman, but I think that it’s definitely a creative step I’ve been needing to take. Like an artist’s coming of age ritual. A lot of my work has relied on the possibility of me performing it to people. And I’ve always missed that theatrical element when a piece of art is restricted and confined by the page. Which is why I feel a lot of my work has naturally moved towards an interdisciplinary nature. I’ve also been working on an EP with two close friends of mine throughout quarantine and it's been such a great catharsis. I always want to be moving and discovering, so moving to different art forms feels natural since I know I’ll always want to be somewhere else anyway. Nobody is one thing. People seem to think wanting to be multiple things is deceptive or rule breaking when it's just honest and innate. It's the greener-grass paradox. Like an irritating hedonic treadmill. So why not go everywhere anyway if you think it’ll fulfill you ? I want to see if I can form an artistic collective with my local artist friends and connect our respective dots! There’s so many young artists I know that are near me and everyone wants to bring their art into the greater public consciousness but is trying to do everything by themselves! It would be so much easier and so much less corporate with communal support.

What change do you hope to see in the world in 2021?:
I hope to see a stretching of what we deem socially acceptable or worthy of wide-scale promotion. During summer, with the spiking of the  BLM in popularity, It seemed that there was a general social upheaval and a lot of people realized we did not have to adhere to the systems and ways of like we had been in the current century. I mean, there were police abolitionists on Instagram! There’s definitely been a relaxation and taming of the anxiety that caused that, but I hope some of that anxiety resurfaces so there another breakthrough. I hope that anxiety inspires kindness. It’s a new decade! Something has to change. Cynicism isn't really constructive; let's be gentler with each other and watch each other grow.

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