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The Way We Live Now

William A Ewing, Holly Roussell


Our fast-changing world seen through the lenses of 140 leading contemporary photographers around the globe

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We hurtle together into the future at ever-increasing speed – or so it seems to the collective psyche. Perpetually evolving, morphing, building and demolishing, rethinking, reframing and reshaping the world around and ahead – and the people within it – an emerging, planetary-wide Civilization is our grand, global, collective endeavour. Never before in human history have so many people been so interconnected, and so interdependent.

With close to 500 images, many previously unpublished, this landmark publication takes stock of the material and spiritual cultures that make up ‘civilization’. Ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from our great collective achievements to our ruinous collective failings, Civilization: The Way We Live Now explores the complexity of contemporary civilization through the rich, nuanced language of photography.

Featuring images by some 140 photographers – from Reiner Riedler’s families at leisure parks, Raimond Wouda’s high schools, Wang Qingsong’s Work, Work, Work and Cindy Sherman’s Society Portraits, to Lauren Greenfield’s displays of ostentatious wealth, Edward Burtynsky’s oil fields, Pablo Lopez Luz’s views on a sprawling contemporary megapolis, Thomas Struth’s images of high technology, Xing Danwen’s electronic wastelands and Taryn Simon’s Contraband, Civilization draws together the threads of humankind’s ever-changing, frenetic, collective life across the globe.

Visually epic, Civilization is presented through eight thematic chapters, each featuring powerful imagery and accompanied by provocative essays, quotes, and concise statements by the artists themselves.

This ambitious publication is accompanied by an internationally touring exhibition produced by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography – a global cultural event for a global subject.

Includes work by:

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 • Alexa Brunet • Markus Brunetti • Paul Bulteel • Edward Burtynsky • Alejandro Cartagena • Philippe Chancel • Che Onejoon • Olivier Christinat • Lynne Cohen • Lois Conner • Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger • 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 • Gabriele Galimberti & Paolo Woods • Andreas Gefeller • George Georgiou • Christoph Gielen • Ashley Gilbertson • Katy Grannan • Samuel Gratacap • Lauren Greenfield • Han Sungpil • Nick Hannes • Sean Hemmerle • Mishka Henner • South Ho Siu Nam • 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 • Rosemary Laing • 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 • Trevor Paglen • 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 • Cindy Sherman • Toshio Shibata • Taryn Simon • Alec Soth • Henrik Spohler • Will Steacy • Thomas Struth • Larry Sultan • Shigeru Takato • Eric Thayer • Danila Tkachenko • 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 • Raimond Wouda • Xing Danwen • Anne Zahalka • Ahmad Zamroni • Luca Zanier • Zhang Xiao • Robert Zhao Renhui • Francesco Zizola

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'Part a Who’s Who handbook for the photographically astute, part documentary of everything ... The 352 pages zing with 500 photographs, many previously unpublished, from 140 leading photographers. A global family photo album, a memory book of personal stories that patchwork to form a rounded impression of humanity'

'What makes the project so fascinating – and what gives it its depth and breadth – is the multiplicity of international voices, approaches, perspectives and motivations that feature'

'The most ambitious stock-taking of our world since Edward Steichen's 'Family of Man' in the 1950s'
World of Interiors

'An admirable and ambitious undertaking ... a compelling collection of photographs'
Geographical magazine

'Through the work of top photographers, split into themed chapters (hive, flow, control), the editors have created a fascinating, amusing, disturbing picture of the world we have created'
The Times, Photography Books of the Year

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 29.5 x 24.5 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Publication date: 18 October 2018

ISBN: 9780500021705

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Hive • 2. Alone Together • 3. Flow • 4. Persuasion • 5. Control • 6. Rupture • 7. Escape • 8. Next

About the Author

William A. Ewing has been an author, lecturer, curator of photography and museum director for more than forty years. His many publications on photography include The Body, Landmark and Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Holly Roussell is a curator and art historian specializing in photography and contemporary art from Asia.