This week, visitors to the annual AIPAD Photography Show fair may be surprised when they arrive at booth 317 and find it completely empty. The space was destined to host Ag Galerie from Tehran, but the gallery has been forced to withdraw from the fair for fear that the dealers’ travel to and from the US would be impeded by President Trump’s travel ban.
“Due to the recent travel ban and the uncertainty of travel to the United States, Ag Galerie will not be participating in The Photography Show this year,” the gallery announced last week on Instagram. “We thank the board of directors of The Photography Show for keeping booth 317 empty for the duration of the fair as a gesture of solidarity.” The gallery had planned to show a very poignant presentation of black-and-white documentary images taken by the late Iranian photographer Bahman Jalali during the Iran–Iraq war that spanned 1980 to 1988.
For the run of the fair, which this year has relocated from the Park Avenue Armory to Pier 94 on the Hudson, booth 317 will simply contain a sheet of paper explaining the reasons for Ag Galerie’s withdrawal. The gallery was to make its first appearance at the fair this year, and is the only exhibitor listed from one of the countries named in Trump’s travel ban.
“We felt it was really important to acknowledge why they weren’t able to appear at the fair,” Catherine Edelman, AIPAD’s president, told the New York Times. “It’s a quiet way of acknowledging what’s going on. … It’s important for the art world to acknowledge the immigration ban and the effect it’s having on the arts.”
Though Trump’s executive orders banning travelers from majority Muslim nations from entering the US have both been blocked by federal judges, there is concern that they will nevertheless cause difficulties for travelers from the targeted countries, including Iran.
The AIPAD Photography Show runs March 30–April 2 at Pier 94 (Twelfth Avenue at West 54th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan).