New York fair The Photography Show by AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) ran from 30 March-2 April and incited controversy before it even began as Tehran-based art space Ag Galerie was forced to pull out due to the travel ban instated by President Trump. The Iranian gallery is not the first cultural entity to suffer the consequences – Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum exhibition Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians artists and Egyptian-born, New York-based designer Karim Rashid, also experienced complications or detainment upon trying to exhibit in or enter the USA.
“The Trump visa ban was not only offensive,” says Simindokht Dehghani, owner and director of Ag Galerie, “but also a tragedy for art and culture which has always tried to bring down the barriers that are created by war and politics.” Trump’s desire to cut funding to the arts also concerns Dehghani, who reasserts the popularly accepted notion that the arts are critical to progression.
AIPAD, in solidarity, and much to the pleasant surprise of Ag Galerie, kept Ag Galerie’s booth reserved and empty, instead leaving a sign that indicated that this was a result of Trump’s policy. “AIPAD was amazing with their support,” Dehghani says. “I will never forget that.”