Bahman Jalali, from the series “Iran-Iraq War.” Courtesy Ag Galerie Tehran.
Ag Galerie, the first ever Iranian dealer to participate in the Association of International Photography Art Dealers’ (AIPAD) Photography Show, has pulled out of the fair due to the travel ban signed by President Donald Trump to target citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, reports the New York Times.
“Due to the recent travel ban and the uncertainty of international travel from countries identified in the ban, Ag Galerie, Tehran, is unable to participate in the Photography Show this year,” reads a note from the gallery on its page on the fair website.
The gallery’s decision not to make the trip to the US comes despite the fact that both iterations of Trump’s travel ban have been blocked by court orders. AIPAD president Catherine Edelman told the Times that the gallery was still worried about making it through customs with its artwork, adding that “we felt it was really important to acknowledge why they weren’t able to appear at the fair.”
The Tehran-based gallery isn’t alone in their decision. In February, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi chose not to attend the Oscars. When he won for best foreign language film as director of The Salesman, he had a proxy read an acceptance speech denouncing Trump’s controversial immigration policy: “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US.”
Just today, Egypt-born, New York-based designer Karim Rashid made news when he posted to Facebook that he had been detained in a “dirty disgusting space” after returning from teaching a design “master class” in Tbilisi, Georgia. Even artists who are come from non-Muslim backgrounds have reported increasingly unpleasant scrutiny, including Aaron Gach (aka the Center for Tactical Magic), whose treatment at the hands of authorities was described as “troubling” by immigration lawyers speaking to artnet News earlier this month.