$16-$19, Free for members and children
13 June - 18 October, 10am-5pm

Civilisation, Photography, Now explores our hyper-connected, 21st-century lives through over 200 original photographs by 103 contemporary artists from across Europe, Asia, America, Australia and New Zealand.

Together, photographers create a multifaceted portrait of our time. They are everywhere on the globe - in every country and in every city - observing, recording and interpreting the way we live now. Examining contemporary life, from the way we produce and consume to the way we work and play, travel and inhabit, think and create, collaborate and clash, Civilisation, Photography, Now reveals not only the complexities of human existence, but also the possibilities beyond the world we currently encounter.

Lauren Greenfield

Image credit: 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. From the series Generation Wealth. © Lauren Greenfield

The exhibition is conceived as a journey through eight key aspects of contemporary civilisation:

  • HIVE explores the urban networks that form modern cities with images depicting the intricate ebb and flow of human activity in ever-changing built environments.
  • ALONE TOGETHER presents people and their relationships and considers how an increasingly digitised world influences our social relations.
  • FLOW reveals both the invisible and visible movement of people, goods and ideas around the world and the effect these systems have on our understanding of contemporary life.
  • PERSUASION investigates the mechanisms we use to persuade others to follow our desires, from advertising and business to religion and politics.
  • CONTROL highlights the impact of authority, as well as our increasing desire to dictate order and structure our future development.
  • RUPTURE examines social breakdown, revealing conflicts between individuals and forcing us to confront civilisation’s failures.
  • ESCAPE examines leisure and recreation, including cruise ships and amusement parks, as well as revealing the paradoxical stress within holiday industries.
  • NEXT surveys the world taking shape in the 21st century, where rapid technological advancement is global.

Kirsten Paisley, Director, Auckland Art Gallery, says: ‘Civilisation, Photography, Now presents a collection of images by the world’s best art photographers, documentary practitioners, photojournalists and digital image-makers. Through the possibilities of the medium of photography, these artists create a captivating portrait of 21st-century life.’

Olivo Barbieri

Image credit: Olivo Barbieri, site specific_MEXICO CITY 11 2011 © Olivo Barbieri

Civilisation, Photography, Now is curated by renowned international photography curators William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell. The exhibition is co-produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/New York/Lausanne, and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea, Seoul. Ron Brownson is the co-ordinating curator for Auckland Art Gallery.

Zhang Xiao

Image credit: Zhang Xiao, Coastline No.2 2009 © Zhang Xiao, courtesy Blindspot Gallery

$2 per hour to a max of $12 on weekends and a $12 flat rate for weekday evenings at The Civic car park. Find out more

Last updated: 03 December 2019