A report by CNN has exposed how, in the span of just a few years, the art scene in Iran and the livelihoods of Iranian artists have sharply dropped off. The freefall is related to the spiraling value of the rial in comparison to the U.S. dollar precipitated by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and impose economic sanctions on the country. But it also has to do with the West’s perception of modern Iran. An art public relations figure who had a client in the country told CNN that a U.S.-based brand that was set to sponsor the Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale next year dropped out after the sanctions were imposed, and a U.K.-based artist said that a group show in Venice in 2017 that she was set to participate in was canceled after backers dropped out.
The artist, Soheila Sokhanvari, told CNN that the sponsors dropped out due to “complications that would reflect on their businesses and potential conflict of interest with their US partners (or) consumers.”
The travel restrictions also harm young artists already struggling in a tough economy, as they may not be able to get visas to leave the country to attend exhibitions or promote their work abroad. The sanctions have also caused the cost of art supplies to go through the roof. And the travel policies have jeopardized the future of Tehran’s ICA Biennale, as artists are unable to get into the country, and the director, Majid Abbasi Farahani, said he is having trouble traveling to the U.S. for meetings.
“It is due to take place next year,” explained Farahani. “However, with Trump's sanctions against Iran, our reach is limited and causing financial strain. Regardless, we are making every effort to host a Biennale that the world will want to know about and attend.”