ART MAGAZINES – Can You Trust them?

A biennial for cultural magazines took place in Stockholm May 7 – May 10, 1998, as a part of Stockholm as Cultural Capital of Europe 1998. During the biennial the Swedish AICA, in co-arrangement with Siksi, hosted a discussion with the title Art Magazines. Can You Trust Them?, which took place on May 8, in the auditorium of the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm.

ART MAGAZINES –
Can You Trust them?

STOCKHOLM
MAY 8, 1998

What is a good art magazine, what does it represent? The supply of art in the world has increased drastically. The globalisation and the medialization make us aware of what is going on on the international scene. How do the art magazines relate to this new situation? How develop new forms of publication, such as video and Internet magazines?

A biennial for cultural magazines took place in Stockholm, May 7 – May 10, 1998, as a part of Stockholm as Cultural Capital of Europe 1998. During the biennial the Swedish AICA, in co-arrangement with Siksi, hosted a discussion with the title Art Magazines. Can You Trust Them?, which took place on May 8, in the auditorium of the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Museet) in Stockholm. The panel discussion was held in English and open for free to the public. The arrangement got financial support from the Swedish National Council for Culture. Editors of international as well as Scandinavian art magazines were invited to the panel.

Moderator: Joshua Decter, New York, contributor to Artforum, Siksi, Flash Art. Panelists: Sara Arrhenius, Stockholm, Index, art critic at Aftonbladet, Sarah Greenberg, London, The Art Newspaper, Helena Kontova, Milan, Flash Art, John Peter Nilsson, Stockholm, Siksi, Matthew Slotover, London, frieze. Further we invited editors of Swedish art magazines to take part in the discussion from the auditorium. Among the participants in the discussion were: Ximena Narea, Heterogénesis, Marie Johansson, S.cr.a.m., Anders Engman, Konsttidningen and Christian Chambert.

One of the questions during the afternoon was: What is the relation between advertisements and the editorial material ­ are there any secret agendas? Can you trust the magazine, when you realise that to a decisive extent it is supported financially by advertisers? Are art magazines, e.g. in the Nordic countries, which get substantial governmental funding, more trustworthy than magazines based on advertising and on subscriptions and on sale of single copies? Helena Kontova said that trust is a pathetic word, a little outdated. Sara Arrhenius continued by saying that identity is a very important aspect of trust in a magazine and Matthew Slotover talked about trusting somebody’s sensibility.

Joshua Decter took up the relation between the local and the international. How maintain the fine balance between subjective or individual sensibility, but also appeal to a broader readership in various countries? In the Nordic countries, as in many other regions in the world, writing for an international art magazine is a language problem. Many art magazines use post-colonial English as a language of communication. Index is bilingual, Swedish, English. Helena Kontova talked about the different editions of Flash Art. Ximena Narea told us about her magazine, Heterogénesis, which is bilingual, Spanish, Swedish.

John Peter Nilsson said that it is important, in our dense media climate, to support good, strong art writers and let them grow: “Pay for articles not published.” Let a good writer shine through. A part of Nilsson’s credo as an editor is that an art magazine should take part in the formulating of a new vision of the globe and I think that we all agreed when he added: “A good magazine should have a soul.”

Christian Chambert,

President AICA Sweden.