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Mar 06 2020

Gallery Booted From London Fair After Barring Asian Assistant

by ArtAsiaPacific

New York-based gallerist Raquelle Azran has been barred from exhibiting at the upcoming Affordable Art Fair (AAF) in London after she claimed an Asian gallery assistant would put off booth visitors afraid of catching the novel coronavirus. Interior of the 2018 AAF in Battersea Park, London. Photo by Jim Linwood, via Flickr

The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) has barred New York-based gallerist Raquelle Azran—who specializes in Vietnamese contemporary art—from participating in its upcoming London show, after the dealer told assistant An Nguyen not to work at the fair “because your presence on the stand would unfortunately create hesitation.” 

In an email to Nguyen, Azran wrote: “The coronavirus is causing much anxiety everywhere, and fairly or not, Asians are being seen as carriers of the virus.” Azran apologized to Nguyen and said that she hoped they could meet in the future. The incident came to light after Nguyen posted a screenshot of the email on Instagram. 

On March 5, AAF announced that Azran would no longer be participating in the next London edition, which opens on March 12 at Battersea Park. AAF stated that it does not “condone the views or implications within [Azran’s] message” and that it had “not instructed any exhibiting gallery to take such action” in response to Covid-19. “Over the past twenty years we have championed the diverse creative community that make up the art world through our global calendar of Fairs.”

Speaking to Artnet, Azran apologized “unreservedly for any offense caused by my actions,” acknowledging that her comments were “insensitive and in hindsight reflected poor judgment.” She said she would continue her work “to encourage and exhibit Vietnamese artists and help them achieve the recognition they deserve.”

Artnet stated that Nguyen had yet to respond to requests for comment.

AAF postponed its Hong Kong edition from May to August 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak but forthcoming fairs in New York, Brussels, and London are moving ahead as planned.  

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