Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts

celebrates with Now Playing: Video 1999-2019 exhibition

text and photos courtesy of Scottsdale Museum of Art

Above: Candice Breitz, Stills from Love Story, 2016, featuring Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Second row; Shabeena Francis Saveri, Sarah Ezzat Mardini, Mamy Maloba Langa / Bottom row; José Maria João, Farah Abdi Mohamed, Luis Ernesto Nava Molero. 7 Channel Installation Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Outset Germany + Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. Courtesy: Goodman Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto + KOW. Photo by Candice Breitz.

To launch a yearlong 20th anniversary celebration, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts (SMoCA) premieres Now Playing: Video 1999-2019, an exhibition featuring video art sampled from the last 20 years. Works by 11 international artists temporarily transforms the Museum, a former movie theater, into a space dedicated to the moving image. The iconic survey marks the importance of video in contemporary art, and the social and political concerns that artists have addressed over the last two decades. 

“The exhibition is akin to a video installation itself, which often presents non-narrative information that the viewer must process and put together. The works transform the Museum into a space that enables the viewer to get lost in time,” said Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA director and chief curator.

Above: Petra Cortright, Flash Animation of Autumn Forest with painted background, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles.


Through various techniques, from animation and time-based performance, to large scale and immersive installations, the artists explore the complexity and beauty of contemporary art and life. An all-video exhibition is a first for the Museum and offers a nod to its movie theater past. All four galleries will be dimly lit, save for the glow of monitors and projectors illuminating the space to immerse the viewer. Artists included in the exhibition are Mark Bradford, Candice Breitz, Petra Cortright, Song Dong, Kota Ezawa, Mads Lynnerup, Christian Marclay, Shirin Neshat, Aaron Rothman, Mika Rottenberg and Diana Thater.

“The artworks reflect the importance that video has played in contemporary art as well as the important social and political concerns that artists have addressed over time,” McCabe explained. “Rather than a thread connecting the individual works, together they tell a story of what artists — working in video — have been interested in over the last 20 years. The viewer can put together their own story.”

Above left: Mads Lynnerup, Clock, 2008,HD video, 24 hours (recorded in one-take). Courtesy of the artist. Above right: Kota Ezawa, Still from The Simpson Verdict, 2002. Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

“Artists were selected based on the strength of their individual works, the importance of their work in the short history of video, or the relevance of a particular work as it relates to the artist’s career,” McCabe continues. “From emerging to well-known artists, the works encompass a range of styles from animation and film to time-based performances.”

The exhibition, sponsored by Carrie Lynn Richardson and Paul Giancola, offers a space in time to reflect on one’s place within the fabric of these stories, the imagery and the present. For example, Candice Breitz’s Love Story draws attention to individual experiences of the worldwide refugee crisis, weighing them against the power of celebrity appeal. This immersive video installation juxtaposes first-person stories told by displaced persons with re-performances of their narratives by two Hollywood stars, Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. The work suspends viewers between the gritty firsthand accounts of people who would typically remain nameless and faceless in the media and an accessible drama featuring two actors who are the embodiment of visibility.

Above: Shirin Neshat, Film Stills from Turbulent, 1998. Copyright Shirin Neshat. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Shirin Neshat’s Turbulent was selected for the significance of her video — a powerful work that marked a change in her career from photography and video to a move toward film. For McCabe, it is one of the most powerful video works of the last 20 years. Candice Breitz was chosen after being viewed at the Venice Biennial (2017) and in Cleveland at the recent Front International: Triennial for Contemporary Art (2018). It is a powerful work that addresses a major topic of concern for people all over the world — migration, refugees and displaced people. For this exhibition McCabe looked within the SMoCA permanent collection for two artists: Song Dong and Aaron Rothman, who created site-specific artworks for previous SMoCA exhibitions.


Party like it’s 1999! Join in at the launch party of a year of festivities to celebrate SMoCA’s 20th anniversary and pledge support for the future growth of the Museum. This year’s spring opening party will include DJs, drinks and a preview of the new exhibition Now Playing. As a thank you to supporters and fans over the years, admission is free to everyone. Chat with curators, mingle with artists and share your SMoCA memories. Cash bar.

Above: Exterior image of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Bill Timmerman.


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.