Civilization: The Way We Live Now ★★★★★ Saatchi Gallery | Jun 2 - Sep 17, 2023

This exhibition does not take on a small subject, but it has been brilliantly organised and curated, and actually manages to address this huge concept through its series of fascinating photographs. The defining characteristics of a civilisation are identified and then explored in the context of our emerging world civilisation of the 21st century. The show is divided into eight parts: Hive explores the reality of the urban environment; Alone Together deals with social relationships; Flow examines the movement of people, goods, and ideas; Persuasion looks at how the community is influenced and manipulated; Control considers concepts of authority and power; Rupture looks at the breakdown of society and conflict; Escape shows people seeking release from the routine and Next? attempts a look at the future. It is impossible to single out works in this extraordinary exhibition, but Edward Burtynsky's chicken processing plant in China, Mike Kelley's picture of Zurich Airport, Mark Power's meditation on modern communication, Damon Winter's reflection of the chaos of modern warfare and Raphaël Dallaporta's eerie photograph of landmines are among the unforgettable pieces. This is a must-see exhibition for anyone interested in human social endeavour and its compelling recording and interpretation by some brilliant artists.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: The Persian Court at the Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai, 2016. Photo by Nick Hannes.

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