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Contemporary Photographers Who Capture The Way We Live Now

  • Damon Winter - Kunduz, Afghanistan. 2010
  • Simon Norfolk - The Large Hadron Collider, The Spirit of Enquiry, No.4, 2007
  • Jeffrey Milstein - Coney Island 1, 2015
November 24, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

Over the last 25 years, the global civilization and its process have gone through major changes. The era of conspicuous individualism has largely impacted the collective behaviors and achievements.

The current exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea explores several aspects of contemporary civilization through the first world-scale photography exhibition on the subject since The Family of Man at MoMA in 1955.

Titled Civilization: The Way We Live Now, the show brings together over 300 photographs by 135 artists coming from 43 countries across the world. In addition to globally renowned artists such as Candida Höfer, Thomas Struth, Olivo Barbieri, Edward Burtynsky, and Wang Qingsong, the exhibition introduces works by Korean artists KDK (Kim Dokyun), Kim Taedong, Jason Sangik Noh, Noh Suntag, Jung Yeondoo, Jo Choonman, Che Onejoon, and Han Sungpil.

Massimo Vitali - Piscinao de Ramos Diptych, 2012
Massimo Vitali – Piscinao de Ramos Diptych, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Benrubi Gallery, NYC

The Way We Live Now

A unique survey of the global civilization and its process since the 1990s, the exhibition examines both the individualistic culture and things and values shared en masse. The images on view show us “the way we live now” from different perspectives: where and how we live, how we work and play, how we transport ourselves and things, how we cooperate and compete, how we love, and how we start wars.

A breadth of artistic perspectives is divided into eight sections: Hive, Alone Together, Flow, Persuasion, Control, Rupture, Escape, and Next.

Jeffrey Milstein - Newark 8 Terminal B, Newark, NJ, from the series, Airports, 2016, Michael Najjar, orbital ascent, from the series outer space, 2016
Left: Jeffrey Milstein – Newark 8 Terminal B, Newark, NJ, from the series, Airports, 2016 ⓒ Jeffrey Milstein / Right: Michael Najjar, orbital ascent, from the series outer space, 2016 ⓒ Michael Najjar

The Exhibition Sections

While the section Hive explores the organic urban development and expansion led by humans, the section Alone Together examines relationships between humans who are social animals by nature.

The section Flow uncovers the shifts in our living conditions as a result of civilization, covering topics of capital, oil, conveyor belts, and road vehicles, while Persuasion dives into advertisement, propaganda, and marketing as persuasion methods.

The ways in which authoritative institutions exercise their power is examined in the section Control, while a range of societal collapses and conflicts is a subject of the section Rupture.

The last two sections, Escape captures people in their leisure and Next introduces us to the newly developing world of the 21st century.

Evan Baden - Jacob, from the series Technically Intimate, 2010
Evan Baden – Jacob, from the series Technically Intimate, 2010 ⓒ Evan Baden

Civilization Survey at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

MMCA Director Bartomeu Marí, who has co-produced the exhibition with William A. Ewing, former director of Musée de l’Elysée, and Holly Roussell Perret-Gentil, expert curator of Asian photography and contemporary art, noted that the exhibition “is a panorama of contemporary civilization as well as a noteworthy compilation of works by international photographers.”

The exhibition Civilization: The Way We Live Now will be on view at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Korea until February 17th, 2019.

The exhibition is a co-production of MMCA and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (Executive Director Todd Brandow). After the debut at MMCA Gwacheon, the exhibition will tour 10 international museums, including the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing in March 2019, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia in September 2020 and the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseille, France in January 2021.

Featured image: Damon Winter – Kunduz, Afghanistan, 2010 ⓒ Damon Winter, The New York Times. Courtesy of the Artist and Benrubi Gallery, NYC; Simon Norfolk – The Large Hadron Collider, The Spirit of Enquiry, No.4, 2007. Courtesy of the Artist and Benrubi Gallery, NYC; Jeffrey Milstein – Coney Island 1, 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and Benrubi Gallery, NYC.