Four Artforum staffers have recently resigned in response to the firing of former editor David Velasco. The news broke on Friday when associate editor Kate Sutton announced her resignation. This was followed by senior editors Zack Hatfield and Chloe Wyma resigning on Saturday. International contributor Emily LaBarge has also cut ties with the publication.
Wyma expressed her disappointment at Velasco’s firing, stating that it goes against what she cherished about the magazine. The sudden departure of these key staff members has raised concerns about the publication’s future and its commitment to artistic integrity.
In addition to the staff resignations, prominent artists Nan Goldin and Nicole Eisenman have declared that they will no longer collaborate with Artforum. They cited the current environment within the magazine as chilling, suggesting that there may be problems not only with leadership but also with the overall climate of the publication.
The controversy surrounding Velasco’s firing stems from Artforum’s decision to publish an open letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The letter, which was signed by thousands of artists, sparked heated debates within the art community. Although both Velasco and other Artforum staff members signed the letter, the initial writer remains unidentified.
Dealers Dominique Lévy, Brett Gorvy, and Amalia Dayan published a statement condemning the letter for not mentioning the Hamas attack on October 7. They argued that the attack led to the deaths of 1,400 Israelis and the taking of 200 hostages. This omission created further divisions among artists and critics.
In response to the backlash, another letter circulated, signed by major dealers and artists, calling the previous letter uninformed and calling for empathy. However, it also failed to acknowledge the casualties in Gaza caused by Israeli airstrikes. These conflicting perspectives reveal deep divisions within the art world and raise questions about the role of politics and activism within the industry.
Artforum’s letter garnered significant criticism, with some expressing revulsion towards the Hamas attack and a disclaimer stating that it was not initiated by the magazine. The controversy further escalated when Artforum publishers Danielle McConnell and Kate Koza stated that the letter was posted without their knowledge. They emphasized that it went against the editorial process of the magazine.
Velasco himself expressed disappointment in Artforum for bowing to outside pressure and compromising freedom of speech and artist voices. His firing has sparked heated discussions about the influence of external forces on editorial decisions and whether it is possible to maintain a neutral stance in the art world.
Penske Media Corporation, which owns both ARTnews and Artforum, has not made any public comments regarding the recent turmoil. However, their silence raises questions about how they will manage the fallout and address concerns about the magazine’s direction moving forward.
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