Olaf Otto Becker, Point 660, 2, 08/2008 67°09’04’’N, 50°01’58’’W, Altitude 360M, from the series Above Zero, 2008
Civilization: The Way We Live Now is an international photography exhibition of monumental scale, featuring over 200 original photographs by over 100 contemporary photographers from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Presented in collaboration with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Paris/Lausanne and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, the exhibition explores photographic representations of life in cities and journeys through the shared experiences of life in the urban environment.
Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #91, 2006, from Architecture of Density series, Courtesy of M97 Shanghai © Michael Wolf
Sato Shintaro, Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo / Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, 1997−99, from Night Lights series, Courtesy of PGI, Tokyo, © Sato Shintaro
Looking at the phenomenal complexity of urban life in the twenty first century, Civilization: The Way We Live Now reflects on the ways in which photographers have documented, and held a mirror up to, the increasingly globalized world around us. The selected works create a picture of collective life around the world and document patterns of mass behavior.
Hive, featuring the work of photographers such as Robert Polidori and Michael Wolf, explores how civilizations press their citizens into cities and the pictorial possibilities offered by the unceasing ebb and flow of crowds, the often precarious plight of the individual, and the spectacular, ever-changing backdrop of the built environment.
Lauren Greenfield, High school seniors (from left) Lili, 17, Nicole, 18, Lauren, 18, Luna, 18, and Sam, 17, put on their makeup in front of a two-way mirror for Lauren Greenfield’s Beauty CULTure documentary, Los Angeles, 2011
Francesco Zizola, In the same boat, 2015 © Francesco Zizola / NOOR / Ahmad Zamroni, Muslims at prayer, Jakarta. More than 90 percent of Indonesia’s some 220 million people follow Islam, making it the world’s biggest Muslim nation, 2007
Alonetogether, featuring the work of photographers such as Lauren Greenfield, Pieter Hugo and Australians including Trent Parke and Anne Zahalka, considers how, despite living in such close proximity to our neighbors, an increasingly digitized world is leading to decreasing social interaction, causing an increase in people’s isolation.
Flow, featuring the work of photographers such as Lee Friedlander and Edward Burtynsky, tracks the visible and invisible movement of people, materials, money and ideas around the world and the impact these systems have on our depersonalized relationship with food, material goods and nature.
Priscilla Briggs, Happy (Golden Resources Mall, Beijing), 2008
Eric Thayer, A test card pattern on a Jumbotron above the Quicken Loans Arena as preparations were underway for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 2016
Mark Power, The funeral of Pope John Paul II broadcast live from the Vatican. Warsaw, Poland, from the series The Sound of Two Songs, 2005
Persuasion, featuring the work of photographers such as Andreia Alves de Oliveira, Sato Shintaro, Mark Power, Amalia Ulman and Alec Soth, looks at the influence of advertising, religion, business and politics.
Ashley Gilbertson, 1,215 American soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors pray before a pledge of enlistment on July 4, 2008, at a massive re-enlistment ceremony at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces in Baghdad, Iraq, From the series Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, 2008
Luca Zanier, FIFA I Executive Committee Zurich, from the series Corridors of Power, 2013
Control, featuring the work of photographers such as Ashley Gilbertson, NOH Suntag and Luca Zanier, highlights the reach of governing bodies around the world and our desire to impose increasing structure on how our civilization develops through governments and their armies, surveillance, architecture, education and business.
Sergey Ponomarev, Migrants walk past the temple as they are escorted by Slovenian riot police to the registration camp outside Dobova, Slovenia, Thursday October, 22, 2015, from the series Europe’s Refugee Crisis © Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Gjorgji Lichovski, Macedonian police clash with refugees at blocked border, 2015 © epa european pressphoto agency / Georgi Licovski
Sean Hemmerle, Brooks Brothers, WTC, New York, 12 Sep 2001 © Sean Hemmerle
Rupture, featuring the work of photographers including Taryn Simon, Richard Mosse, Pablo López Luz, Taloi Havini and Stuart Millar, forces us to confront civilizations failures and blind spots through images of detention centers, the flow of refugees, border crossings and environmental degradation.
Reiner Riedler, Wild River, Florida, from the series Fake Holidays, 2005
Sheng-Wen Lo, Diergaarde Blijdorp Rotterdam, The Netherlands from the series White Bear, 2015
Massimo Vitali, Piscinao de Ramos, 2012, © Massimo Vitali
Escape, featuring the work of photographers such as An-My Lê and Olaf Otto Becker questions the sometimes dark side of the pleasure industry for all ages ranging from dance floors, cruise ships and amusement parks to communal sport, outdoor pursuits and the joys of solitude.
Olaf Otto Becker, Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore from the series Reading the Landscape © Olaf Otto Becker / Irene Kung, Torre Velasca [Milan], from the series The Invisible City, 2010
Next, featuring the work of photographers such as Valérie Belin, Michael Najjar and Robert Zhao Renhui, looks to the future but more importantly to the present, where newness and technological advancement have become the norm, investigates the dangers of the speed at which civilization is developing.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said, “Civilization: The Way We Live Now is a rich and varied portrait of our times. The exceptional quality of the work included is testament to the talent and vibrancy present in contemporary photography today.”
Civilization: The Way We Live Now has been produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Paris/Lausanne and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, in consultation with the National Gallery of Victoria.
A major publication has been published by Thames & Hudson in parallel with the exhibition.
Civilization: The Way We Live Now
September 13, 2019 – February 2, 2020 / National Gallery Victoria
The Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne, Australia
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