Today up-and-coming Russian art news site, colta.ru, broke the news that leading Russian art magazine ArtChronika would cease publication. Though the bimonthly magazine went through more than a few rough patches and high profile personnel changes, it was arguably still an ambassador for the Moscow art scene, appearing as it did in booths at art fairs across the world (including, notably, the notoriously-picky ArtBasel franchise.) Its Pussy Riot cover was a shot heard round the world.
While the magazine business is tricky everywhere these days (and all the more so, with new-comer online competitors like colta, Artguide.ru and the Russian version of The Art Newspaper thriving), it seems there is more to the story than anyone’s cracked so far. The magazine was founded in 1999, and was later taken over by Shalva Breus, who dreamt up the ArtChronika Foundation and its annual attention-seeking Kandinsky Prize (whose shortlist was announced earlier this month.) In 2011, the then-monthly publication passed into the hands of editor-in-chief Maria Roguleva, who saw it through the transition to 6 issues a year. While the magazine was never known as an incubator of revolutionary criticism, it was partially responsible for drawing a larger audience to the Pussy Riot case, among others (see, for instance, two covers tackling women in art from 2009, below.)
What’s confusing in all this is that, according to the news, the staff of ArtChronika went willingly, possibly even all quitting together. It also seems like this in no way affects this year’s Kandinsky Prize, nor Breus’ plans to convert an old “Udarnik” movie theater near the Red October island into his personal museum.
As always, we’ll keep you posted when we get the details. For now, it seems the Russian social networks are teeming with speculation.