Carnegie Mellon University
Skip navigation and jump directly to page content

Oct. 29: Carnegie Mellon Art Professor Organizes Worldwide Photo Exhibit Featuring Images Reflecting What Iran's Capital May Look Like


Eric Sloss                           

Carnegie Mellon Art Professor Organizes Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Featuring Images Reflecting What Iran's Capital May Look Like 

PITTSBURGH — Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Art Professor Jon Rubin has organized "Never Been to Tehran," a worldwide exhibition of photography reflecting what 29 international artists, including Rubin, imagine Iran's capital city to look like.

Tehran exhibitThese artists from Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, who have never been to Tehran, will use research from news, literature, the Internet and movies to imagine images of the city. The artists will then photograph places in their own cities that feel or look similar to Tehran and upload the photos to

The photos are on display in museums and galleries around the world, including Tehran, Turkey, San Francisco, New Zealand, Denmark, Chicago and Berlin. In Pittsburgh, the photos will be shown daily on the Jumbotron in downtown's Theater Square through Nov. 16.

Rubin is interested in exploring an alternative to the media-influenced dominant perception of Tehran. "In a time when governments and media outlets are constructing a simple, polarized and distancing image of Iran and the city of Tehran, perhaps the most radical act is one of empathy," he said.

The exhibit reveals a variety of international perceptions of Tehran. For viewers in Tehran, the exhibition presents a chance to witness an unusual reflection of their globally projected image, taken from the daily lives and environs of outsiders.  The online exhibition constantly changes as the 29 participants upload new photos.

In the exhibit, Rubin also explores how technology has made the world smaller. The Internet is a powerful medium for exchanging images, facts and cultural ideas about places. People who have never traveled outside of their own village or country can feel like they've backpacked around Europe without actually having done so. In the exhibition, Rubin and the artists examine the authenticity and effects of this phenomenon. Rubin is organizing this exhibition with curator Andrea Grover, founder of Aurora Picture Show, a non-profit center for film, video and new media in Houston, Texas.

Photo credits clockwise from top left: Sal Randolph, USA; Heidi Hove Pedersen, Denmark; Greg Halpern and Ahndraya Parlato, USA; Otto Von Busch, Sweden and Turkey; France Martin Krusche, Austria; Jon Rubin, USA; Keiko Tsuji, Japan; Iyallola Tillieu, Belgium