Civilization: The Way We Live Now – group exhibition

Civilization: The Way We Live Now is an international exhibition featuring 200-plus 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.

© Ashley Gilbertson / VII Network. 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 2008, from the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series, type C photograph, 69 x 94 x 5.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
© Ashley Gilbertson/VII Network. 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 2008, from the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series, type C photograph, 69 x 94 x 5.5 cm.
Courtesy of the artist.

Looking at the phenomenal complexity of urban life in the twenty-first century, the exhibition reflects on the ways in which photographers have documented, and held a mirror up to, the increasingly globalised world around us. The selected works create a picture of collective life around the world and document patterns of mass behaviour.

© Reiner Riedler. Wild River, Florida 2005, from the Fake Holidays series, type C photograph, 100 x 120 x 4 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
© Reiner Riedler. Wild River, Florida 2005, from the Fake Holidays series, type C photograph, 100 x 120 x 4 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Through eight key themes, Civilization: The Way We Live Now takes a diverse and multidimensional look at what photographers around the world, including the likes of Candida Höfer, Edward Burtynsky, Amalia Ulman, Hong Hao, and Richard Mosse, are telling us about the state of early twenty-first century civilization.

  • 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.
  • 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 neighbours, an increasingly digitised 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 depersonalised relationship with food, material goods and nature.
  • Persuasion, featuring the work of photographers such as Andreia Alves de Oliveira, Sato Shintaro, Amalia Ulman, and Alec Soth, looks at the influence of advertising, religion, business and politics. 
  • 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.
  • 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 centres, the flow of refugees, border crossings and environmental degradation.
  • Escape, featuring the work of photographers such as An-My Lê and Olaf Otto Beckerquestions 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.
  • 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.  
Follow this link for exhibition highlights.

Tickets for the exhibition are available from NGV.MELBOURNE.

© Ahmad Zamroni. Muslims at prayer, Jakarta. More than 90 percent of Indonesia's some 220 million people follow Islam, making it the worlds biggest Muslim nation. 2007, from the Untitled series 2007, pigment inkjet print, 139 x 64 x 5.5 cm.
© Ahmad Zamroni. Muslims at prayer, Jakarta. More than 90 percent of Indonesia's some 220 million people follow Islam, making it the worlds biggest Muslim nation. 2007, from the Untitled series 2007,
pigment inkjet print, 139 x 64 x 5.5 cm.

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September

The first major survey exhibition of celebrated Australian photographer Petrina Hicks, it includes more than forty photograph and video works spanning the period 2003 to 2019.

October

A new exhibition now open at the Australian National Maritime Museum reveals some of iconic moments of World War II as captured by renowned photographer, Dorothea Lange.

November

'Array' is the final ‘cycle’ in award-winning Australian artist, Murray Fredericks’ 16-year 'SALT' project.

December

Nurturing the careers of young women in photography, Sam I Am’s mentorship program, Chapter One, presents the work of its eight protégé photographers at a special exhibition.