Exhibitions, Press Release

July 21, 2020

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia McInnis | [email protected] | 480-874-4663 

‘Urban Mapping: Public Space Through the Lens of Contemporary Iranian Artists’ Opens This Fall at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Siavash Naghshbandi, “Daily Life in Tehran,” 2017. Video still. 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) presents a powerful exhibition that examines the concept of public space from the perspectives of 10 Iranian artists. “Urban Mapping: Public Space Through the Lens of Contemporary Iranian Artists” will be on view Oct. 3, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021.

“SMoCA strives to present a diversity of voices in contemporary art and this exhibition comes at an ever-important moment in which we seek to find improved ways of human connection,” said Jennifer McCabe, director and chief curator.

This exhibition shines a light into the depths of the Iranian experience normally hidden from the outside world by focusing on public and private spaces. Comprising of 40 photographs and 4 video installations, these works explore urban spaces as a nexus of social communication and political transformation. “Urban Mapping” features the work of 10 essential voices in contemporary Iranian art, which offers museumgoers a wide and varied view of life in the city. Some are among the most celebrated contemporary artists in Iran, while others are just beginning their careers — forming a fresh artistic perspective for younger generations for whom the 1978 revolution is only an inherited memory. 

“‘Urban Mapping’ is of particular interest because of the focus on emerging Iranian artists telling personal stories of a culture which is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The fresh perspectives of the artists in this exhibition offer insight into a non-Western culture, but also allow new connections and relationships to be made with a Western audience,” said Julie Ganas, curator of programming. 

Spanning 10 collections of photographs and videos — each with its own distinct vision, but all bound by an interest in the nature of personal and collective identity — the experience of urban space and the artist’s response to history.  

Featured artists include Saba Alizadeh, Raood Dashti, Arash Fayez, Ghazaleh Hedayat, Rana Javadi, Mehran Mohajer, Siavash Naghshbandi, Hamed Noori, Behnam Sadighi and Mehdi Vosoughnia. 

Curated by internationally acclaimed Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti, “Urban Mapping” portrays the streets, squares, alleys and private spaces of the city, where particular and collective identity mingle, evolve and are expressed in the shadow of oppressive forces. The works on view are expressions of the subjective experience of life in Iran, addressing the contradictions, beauty, and history of its people and cities. 

Dashti is an artist in her own right that has exhibited her artwork internationally. Work from her recent photographic series “Land/s” will be on view in the SMoCA Lounge. This series of work addresses reconstructed topographies through the immigrant perspective and how we often seek out familiar landscapes — Dashti’s work is much more rooted in nature than the urban environment — that remind us of home.

“Urban Mapping: Public Space Through the Lens of Contemporary Iranian Artists” is curated by Gohar Dashti and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. Presentation at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) is organized by Julie Ganas, curator of programming. 

Through its partnership with the City of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational opportunities that foster active, lifelong community engagement with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through four acclaimed branches — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation — serving more than 600,000 participants annually. In conjunction with the City of Scottsdale, we also host more than 200,000 people annually on our campus through a robust rentals program. 

Founded in 1999, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) explores the best of contemporary art, architecture and design. Global in its focus, the Museum is a unique and vital cultural resource for the Southwest, serving local audiences as well as visitors from the United States and abroad. Designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, SMoCA’s minimalist building (an ingenious renovation of a former movie theater) has four galleries for showcasing changing exhibitions and works from the Museum’s collection, along with SMoCA Lounge, a living, functional art installation and space for community engagement. The Museum presents a wide variety of educational programs and special events for adults and families, including lectures, readings, performances, docent-led tours, workshops and classes. SMoCA also features an outdoor sculpture garden housing James Turrell’s “Knight Rise,” one of the renowned artist’s public skyspaces, and “Scrim Wall,” a monumental curtain of translucent glass panels by James Carpenter Design Associates. The Museum’s retail store, Shop@SMoCA, offers classic design objects and furnishings, contemporary jewelry, art and architecture books, and imaginative gifts for all occasions. 

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art 
7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, Arizona 85251 
[email protected] 

As of March 2020, the Museum will be closed to the public until further notice. For more information regarding Scottsdale Arts’ response to COVID-19 visit ScottsdaleArts.org/notices.


$10 adults, $7 students, seniors (65+) and veterans; free for members and children under 15 
Free every Thursday and every second Saturday of the month.


 For interviews, images or additional information, please contact:  

Virginia McInnis 
Public Relations Specialist 
Scottsdale Arts 

Phone: 480-874-4663 
Email: [email protected]