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Civilization, Flowers Gallery, exhibition review: ‘Momentous proportions of contemporary life’

Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #39, 2005. Photograph: Michale Wolf, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

The Civilization exhibition currently showing at Flowers Gallery in Shoreditch is a small collection of gorgeous large-format prints marking the publication of the eponymous book from which they are drawn.

The thick tome Civilization: The Way We Live Now, edited by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell, collects hundreds of pictures by 140 photographers, from which a select few are chosen for display.

Drawn together to reflect on documenting the way we live, work, build, invent and dream, the images are also meticulous studies in light and form.

Robert Polidori, Dashashwemedh Road, Varanasi, India, 2007. Photograph: Robert Polidori, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

What is perhaps most striking about these photographs is the momentous proportions of the contemporary life they depict: the shapes of shacks and logs repeated hundreds of times in a riverine settlement in Nigeria, a vast graveyard set against the horizon of a far vaster city of high-rise blocks in Kazakhstan, and the dizzying clutter of streetscapes in India and London remind us how gigantic our built environments have become.

The exhibition showcases only a small handful of the images in the book, and it would have benefitted from better signage, but it is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Civilization is on till 22 December at Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP.

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