AIT regrets accusations made by artist


TAIPEI, Taiwan News — The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday that it regrets the accusations made by a Taiwanese artist that the AIT deliberately made things difficult for him when he applied for a visa and denied that the AIT official interviewing the artist had made insulting remarks.

“Regrettably, instead of providing the information we needed to renew his visa, Mr. Chen chose to misrepresent his experience to the media,” the AIT said in a statement in response to reporters’ inquiries.

“The American visa officer was unable to process the visa request to conclusion due to the lack of complete and accurate information on the visa form,” it added.

Chen Chieh-jen, a noted Taiwanese artist of contemporary arts, told local media that he was given a hard time during a visa interview with an AIT officer, who found mistakes in his application form. The application was intended for him to attend “Prospect. 1 New Orleans,” the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States on November 1.

Chen accused the AIT officer of being “impatient” during the interview, and quoted the officer as saying to him in Mandarin: “Are you going to argue with me? I suspect that you intend to stow away (to the U.S.).”

The artist left the scene as a protest to the AIT and decided not to apply for the visa nor to attend the biennial.

“He has no right to make such remarks to me, “ Chen said. “What he said is fulled of discrimination and colonial mindset.”

As a protest to the AIT, Chen launched a blog called “I suspect that you intend to stow away to the U.S.” to call on those who have been treated like him to share their experience.

Chen also said he intends to shoot a film or hold an exhibition out of the gathered cases.

Noting that Chen’s application for a U.S. visa was not denied, the AIT said his visa application remains active in its system and he is always welcome to return to complete the application process.

Since the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, Taiwan and the U.S. have maintained substantive ties despite the absence of diplomatic relations.

The AIT functions as a de facto embassy and its head is also treated as the de facto top U.S. representative to Taiwan.