Book Keeping of 2007 B from the series My Things, 2008 © 2018 Hong Hao, courtesy of Pace Gallery
Civilization: The Way We Live Now presents nearly 300 works by more than 130 of the world’s most renowned photographic artists, offering a complex and sprawling vision of contemporary life. The images gathered in the exhibition, all produced in the past 25 years, speak to the changes brought about by globalization, and draw attention both to the increasing amount of complexity and conflict, and to the unprecedented degree of interdependence, that characterize life today.
They attest, as well, to the development of the medium of photography, and its ability to document these sweeping changes. Organized in collaboration between UCCA and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, the Beijing presentation of Civilization is curated by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell.
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 © Lauren Greenfield
In his 2011 book, Civilization, the historian Niall Ferguson notes: “These days most people around the world dress in much the same way: the same jeans, the same sneakers, the same T-shirts…It is one of the greatest paradoxes of modern history that a system designed to offer infinite choice to the individual has ended up homogenizing humanity.” This paradox lies at the core of “Civilization,” which strives to explain the “complex whole” that is modern society, in all its spiritual and material richness. The photographers in this exhibition depict, reveal, examine, criticize and otherwise reflect our hyper-modern and complex social terrain, from Edward Burtynsky’s massively transformed landscapes to Lauren Greenfield’s revealing urban portraits, and Toshio Shibata’s highly ordered tableaus to Xing Danwen’s electronic pollution.
Jeffrey Milstein, Newark 8 Terminal B, Newark, NJ, from the series Airports, 2016 © Jeffrey Milstein
The exhibition is divided into eight sections. “Hive” explores the systems of cohabitation and collaboration that have developed in urban settings. “Alone Together” documents the solidarities and estrangements found within communities, as well as the effect of the internet on sociality. “Flow” testifies to the accelerated production and widening wealth gap in the post-industrial world. “Persuasion” explores the power of symbolic capital, from marketing strategies to consumption habits, from religious beliefs to personality cults. “Control” examines humanity’s ability to create order, resolve disputes, and organize political and social structures. “Rupture” focuses on the breakdown of this order, and the conflicts between individuals and collectives. “Escape” follows the ascent of recreational culture, where relaxation, entertainment, adventure, and thrill-seeking offer freedom from the given. Finally, “Next” presents visions of the future, questioning teleological narratives of development.
Max Aguilera-Hellweg, Andreia Alves de Oliveira, Evan Baden,Murray Ballard,Olivo Barbieri, Mandy Barker, Olaf Otto Becker, Valérie Belin, Daniel Berehulak, Peter Bialobrzeski, Florian Böhm, Michele Borzoni, Priscilla Briggs, Paul Bulteel, Edward Burtynsky, Alejandro Cartagena, Philippe Chancel, Che Onejoon, Olivier Christinat, Lynne Cohen, Lois Conner, Raphaël Dallaporta, Gerco de Ruijter, Richard de Tscharner, Sergey Dolzhenko, Natan Dvir, Roger, Eberhard, Mitch Epstein, Andrew Esiebo, Adam Ferguson, Vincent Fournier, Andy Freeberg, Lee Friedlander, Matthieu Gafsou, Andreas Gefeller, George Georgiou, Christoph Gielen, Ashley Gilbertson, Katy Grannan, Samuel Gratacap, Lauren Greenfield, Han Sungpil, Nick Hannes, Sean Hemmerle, Mishka Henner, Candida Höfer, Dan Holdsworth, Hong Hao, Pieter Hugo, Jo Choonman, Chris Jordan, Yeondoo Jung, Nadav Kander, KDK, Mike Kelley, Kim Taedong, Alfred Ko, Irene Kung, Benny Lam, An-My Lê, Gjorgji Lichovski, Michael Light, Mauricio Lima, Pablo López Luz, Christian Lünig, Vera Lutter, Alex MacLean, David Maisel, Ann Mandelbaum, Edgar Martins, Jeffrey Milstein, Mintio, Richard Misrach, Andrew Moore, David Moore, Richard Mosse, Michael Najjar, Walter Niedermayr, Jason Sangik Noh, Noh Suntag, Simon Norfolk, Hiroshi Okamoto, Neil Pardington, Trent Parke, Cara Phillips, Robert Polidori, Sergey Ponomarev, Cyril Porchet, Mark Power, Giles Price, Reiner Riedler, Simon Roberts, Andrew Rowat, Victoria Sambunaris, Sato Shintaro, Dona Schwartz, Paul Shambroom, Sheng-Wen Lo, Toshio Shibata, Taryn Simon, Alec Soth, Henrik Spohler, Will Steacy, Thomas Struth, Larry Sultan, Shigeru Takato, Eric Thayer, Eason Tsang Ka Wai, Andreas Tschersich, Amalia Ulman, Brian Ulrich, Penelope Umbrico, Carlo Valsecchi, Reginald Van de Velde, Cássio Vasconcellos, Massimo Vitali, Robert Walker, Dougie Wallace, Richard Wallbank, Wang Qingsong, Patrick Weidmann, Thomas Weinberger, Damon Winter, Michael Wolf, Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti, Raimond Wouda, Xing Danwen, Anne Zahalka, Luca Zanier, Zhang Xiao, Ahmad Zamroni, Robert Zhao Renhui, Francesco Zizola.
The Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography aims to enlighten, delight and inspire people around the world through the presentation of museum-quality photographic exhibitions, along with related publications, online content, symposia, lectures, and other forms of educational activity.
FEP is the largest independent source of photography exhibitions working on the international stage. The Foundation collaborates with established curators and motivated lenders to produce historic and contemporary exhibitions that travel to museums, galleries and institutions around the world. Recent exhibitions include: The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology, Vik Muniz: The Rebirth of Wonder, William Wegman: Being Human, Hard Truths: Photojournalists of the New York Timesand Beyond Fashion.