Civilization: The Way We Live Now is a photographic exploration of the globalised world – including people, movement and buildings.

Co-curated by Holly Roussel and William Ewing, this exhibition is 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.

NGV-Civilization-38.jpgInstallation view of Robert Polidori’s Amrut Nagar #3, Mumbai, India, 2011. Photo by Tom Ross.

The twenty-first century is a complex place – mass globalisation, ongoing development of the built environment, a collapsing of perceived proximity – these are just some of the topics explored in the NGV Australia’s latest exhibition Civilization: The Way We Live Now.

The international photography exhibition brings together over 200 original photographic works by a selection of 100 contemporary photographers from across the world.

Setting the tone for the show, co-curator William Ewing says: “What is the definition of civilization? The word only goes back to 1756, so it’s a relatively new addition but it’s an important imperative because the level of global anxiety has never been quite what it is.”


EXHI058843_RGB.jpgIrene Kung, Torre Velasca [Milan] 2010 from the The Invisible City series.

Opening the exhibition, assistant director of the NGV Isobel Crombie says: “The show has a strong thematic message based around a critical contemporary message – what does a twenty-first century, global civilization look like?

“The exhibition explores photographers’ representation of the phenomenal complexity of civilization with a labyrinthine journey into the shared aspects of urban life. At the heart of this exhibition is an attempt to identify the shared human experiences, the similarities in how we live, work, dream, fail and learn.”


Installation view by Tom Ross.

The exhibition is curated into eight key themes, topics that offer a glimpse into the state of the very early part of civilization in the twenty-first century, essentially putting a lens on the shared experiences of life in the urban environment.

Civilization: The Way We Live Now is Open 2 February 2020 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square.

Image: Supplied / Alex MacLean, Shipping Containers, Portsmouth, VA 2011, type C photograph.