September 22, 2023


How Art Works

RIP Bookforum

4 min read

The New York-based literary journal Bookforum will stop publication, in line with an official announcement in the present day, December 12. The information that Bookforum’s present December–February concern might be its final comes simply days after the shock reveal that Penske Media Company has acquired its sister journal and father or mother firm, Artforum.

Bookforum was launched in 1994 as a literary complement to Artforum and have become identified for operating guide opinions, essays, and interviews in addition to for its “Paper Trail” column, that includes information and updates from the publishing trade. As responses to the journal’s dissolution poured in on-line, some interpreted it as a bigger image of decline on the earth of literary criticism, the place platforms are more and more scarce. “We’d as properly fold, too,” tweeted the unbiased press Semiotext(e).

Two weeks in the past, Astra Publishing Home announced the shuttering of its publication, Astra Journal, after operating simply two points. And controversy ensued earlier this yr when the beloved New York literary journal the Believer was acquired by a advertising and marketing firm, whose brief but disastrous takeover of the publication led its authentic writer, the nonprofit McSweeney’s, to purchase it again only a month later. In a bid to remain afloat, it’s not uncommon for small publications to lean on rich backers — this fall, for instance, the mega-gallery David Zwirner announced that it will develop into the lead funder of the Drift, a literary quarterly began in 2020.

“The extreme outpouring of grief on social media actually says all of it — Bookforum was uncommon and valuable,” Lauren O’Neill-Butler, a former senior editor at Artforum, informed Hyperallergic in response to Bookforum’s shuttering. “Writing for the journal was formative for me (and lots of others) and it’s devastating that there might be no newcomers.”

A spokesperson for Penske Media Company reached by Hyperallergic declined to touch upon Bookforum’s closure or whether or not any of the journal’s staffers would go on to different roles within the firm. Based by Jay Penske, the son of billionaire automotive trade large Roger Penske, the media group has over 20 brands in its roster, together with two different print artwork magazines, Artnews and Artwork in America. Artforum is the most recent acquisition in Penske’s buying spree of latest years, which features a majority stake within the movie and tech competition South by Southwest and Rolling Stone. The latter was made after the corporate accepted a $200 million funding from the Saudi Analysis and Media Group, a publicly traded media firm whose chairman was Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud (the present Saudi Minister of Tradition).

The dissolution of Bookforum in the present day has prompted fears and criticism from readers who noticed Penske’s Artforum buy as a probably disruptive consolidation that might result in job cuts.

Lengthy earlier than Penske’s acquisition, Artforum was rocked by inner turmoil. Final yr, the journal settled an illegal retaliation lawsuit introduced by its former worker, Amanda Schmitt, in 2017. Schmitt accused Artforum’s former writer, Knight Landesman, of sexually harassing her whereas she labored on the publication and after, and of retaliating in opposition to her when she and at the least eight different girls made their allegations public. Artforum’s longtime editor-in-chief, Michelle Kuo, resigned within the wake of the lawsuit, and over 50 Artforum and Bookforum workers signed an open letter condemning the publishers’ dealing with of Schmitt’s allegations.

Though Landesman resigned in October 2017, he remained a co-owner controlling an undisclosed variety of shares, as Hyperallergic revealed in 2018. Final March, Artforum confirmed Landesman was not a shareholder however didn’t present a timeline of his divestment.

In response to Hyperallergic’s request for remark, Artforum’s affiliate writer Kate Koza stated, “We want to thank our terribly gifted workers and writers. We’re so pleased with the contribution Bookforum has made to the literary neighborhood and are immensely grateful to the advertisers, subscribers, and booksellers who made our mission doable over time.”

Penske Media famous in an announcement that Koza together with writer Danielle McConnell would proceed to steer Artforum operations, whereas writer and shareholder Anthony Korner would stay in “an ambassadorial position.” Phrases of the transaction weren’t disclosed.  

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