NOH Suntag<br/>
<em>Red House I #13</em> 2005<br/>
© NOH Suntag

Life As We Know It

Sun 15 Sep 19, 11am–12.30pm

NOH Suntag<br/> <em>Red House I #13</em> 2005<br/> © NOH Suntag
Past program

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square

Exhibition space
Ground Level

Civilization: The Way We Live Now explores photographers’ representations of life in cities, creating a picture of collective life around the world.

The stories behind the photographs on display, and what they tell us about how we live now, are revealed in a series of back-to-back talks in the exhibition space.


Maggie Finch is Curator of Photography at the NGV. Maggie joined the Photography Department in 2006, and during this time has curated numerous exhibitions, including Endless Present: Robert Rooney and Conceptual Art in 2010, the Sue Ford retrospective in 2014, Patrick Pound’s The Great Exhibition in 2017 and earlier this year the exhibition Darren Sylvester: Carve a Future, Devour Everything, Become Something. She has assisted as coordinating curator of Civilization: The Way We Live Now.


Simon Terrill is an Australian artist based in London. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Sculpture) and Master of Arts (Fine Art) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and has lectured in Critical and Historical Studies at the VCA.  Terrill won the Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship in 2018 and has had recent exhibitions in prestigious galleries across Australia, Europe and the UK. Currently he lectures in photography at London South Bank University and is a Somerset House Studios Resident.

Dona Schwartz produces photographic work that explores everyday life and culture. She received a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, specialising in visual communication and ethnographic research. She has published four books and her work is included in the collections of galleries, museums, libraries and universities across the USA as well as the Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland. Schwartz is a Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary. She is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.

Cameron Allan McKean is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Deakin University, Geelong. Before beginning graduate studies, Cameron lived in Japan where he worked as a photographer, writer, journalist and editor for a range of publications.  In 2009, he co-founded the biannual arts publication Too Much: Magazine of Romantic Geography, which is held in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In 2014 he was selected to participate in a research project on climate risk funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, leading to his thesis topic which involves ethnographically tracing beliefs about living and dying held by those who work with degraded coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean.

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green have worked as an artist collective since 1989. Their works are included in most of Australia’s public art collections and many private collections. In 2007 they were Australia’s Official War Artists, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and between 2011 and 2014 worked on a follow-up collaboration with artist Jon Cattapan about the aftermath of Australia’s wars since Vietnam. Brown is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Culture and Communication at The University of Melbourne. Green is Professor of Contemporary Art in the School of Culture and Communication at The University of Melbourne. He has written two books and recently completed a history of biennials in contemporary art with Associate Professor Anthony Gardner (Oxford University).

Sarah Pannell is a Melbourne-based documentary photographer whose work concerns culture, landscape, tradition and community. Pannell received a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from Deakin University and a Bachelor of Arts (Photography), RMIT University. Travelling regularly, her work observes how landscape and society is marked by both history and accelerated modernisation, capturing the tension between these different influences and the result when past and present collide.

Talks and discussions Contemporary Photography Civilization The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square