HANOI (Vietnam News/ANN): A Vietnamese art curator was told not to attend an art fair in the UK over fears attendees would assume the curator was infected with the coronavirus.
Raquelle Azran, a dealer focusing on contemporary Vietnamese art, cancelled An Nguyen’s attendance at the Affordable Art Fair next week in London via an email which An then posted on Instagram on Thursday (March 5), according to The Guardian.
The dealer wrote that An’s “presence on the stand would unfortunately create hesitation on the part of the audience to enter the exhibition space”.
After apologising for cancelling An’s attendance at the fair, Azran wrote: “The coronavirus is causing much anxiety everywhere, and fairly or not, Asians are being seen as carriers of the virus.”
The gallery holding the fair cancelled Azran’s exhibition, requested a full apology and distanced itself from her comments.
Affordable Art Fair published its official statement on the incident in a Twitter post:
"We were not aware of this email communication or its contents and we do not condone the views or implications within the message. We have tried to contact the gallery who sent the message to request a full retraction and apology.
"We will also discuss with them their participation at the fair next week. We wish to reassure that these views are not held by the Affordable Art Fair and we have not instructed any exhibiting gallery to take such action."
An called for restraint in an Instagram post and to avoid blaming Azran solely.
“If you are seeing that the issue is solely with the person in question alone it is not.
“It is the systematic structure of knowledge production that informs some of us that normalising non-aggressive discrimination is acceptable which needs to change, ” An wrote.
Azran was quoted by the British newspaper as saying she apologised “for any offence caused” and admitted her actions were “insensitive and in hindsight reflected poor judgment”.
“[It was] insensitive and in hindsight reflected poor judgment for me to cancel An Nguyen joining my stand as an assistant, ” she said.
“I shall continue, as I have over the past two decades, to encourage and exhibit Vietnamese artists and help them achieve the recognition they deserve.”
Azran is a no stranger to Vietnamese art community. Since coming to Vietnam for the first time in 1991, she has built a collection of hundreds of paintings by many famous Vietnamese artists out of love for the country’s contemporary art.
She is also among the first people to take Vietnamese art to the United States.
Meanwhile, the British Embassy in Hanoi issued a statement apologising for the incident and insisting there are no travel restrictions between the two counties.
Posting on Twitter, the Embassy said:
"We are really sorry this happened. The views reported are not those of the organisers of the event or of the UK Government. We want to state clearly that the UK is not advising against travelling to Vietnam, nor are we restricting travel into the UK by Vietnamese citizens.
"We hope as many people as possible in the UK go to the art fair and get the chance to meet all the curators who have put together this great show."
Despite Azran’s assumptions, the UK has recorded more cases of the deadly Covid-19 than Vietnam.
So far, Vietnam has recorded only 16 people infected with the disease, all of whom have recovered, while the UK has found 115 cases with one death.
Vietnam News has attempted to contact An Nguyen for further comment. — Vietnam News/Asia News Network
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