Effects of the Travel Ban Are Still Felt in the Art World

A map of the United States with barbed wire all around it.

Image credit: Shutterstock

The New York art scene has made it a point in recent times to showcase the ways in which the Middle East and the Muslim world have contributed to the global cultural wealth. With the Museum of Modern Art replacing their permanent galleries with art from countries affected by Mr. Trump’s travel ban, like Jordan and Iran, it’s clear that the city’s curators want their opinions to be known.

Even with the travel ban being blocked as unconstitutional several times over by court orders now, its ugly ripples continue to spread. One such ripple is seen in the Aipad Photography Show, which opened Thursday, March 30th and runs through Sunday, April 2nd. One empty booth, near the entrance, will bear only a single piece of white paper.

“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.”

Ag Galerie is Iranian-owned and represents over a dozen photographers from that country. Collectively, they would have been the first presence from Iran in Aipad, which lauds itself as “the longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the photographic medium.” More than 115 galleries from five continents will be there. But not Ag Galerie.

The owners of the gallery felt that the risk to themselves and their collection is too high to brave U.S. customs and immigration.

Aipad’s president, Catherine Edelman, is more than willing to leave the booth empty to make its quiet statement.

“It’s a quiet way of acknowledging what’s going on,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s important for the art world to acknowledge the immigration ban and the effect it’s having on the arts.”

That white note, however, does not make half the statement that Ag Galerie’s collection could have done, particularly the works of photographer Bahman Jalili, who documented the Iran-Iraq war in crisp, unforgiving black-and-white.

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About Alex Holt

I am a local artist from Brooklyn, NY. I love art, design, books, photography, gardening and blogging.
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