Cabinet is pleased to announce the publication of Jeff Dolven’s Take Care and Sally O’Reilly’s The Ambivalents, two new books in its “24-Hour Book” series.

The fifth and sixth volumes in the series, respectively, Take Care and The Ambivalents are the result of an unusual experiment. They were written in the exact same twenty-four-hour period, with Dolven installed at Cabinet’s gallery space in New York and O’Reilly working in a room at the Inner Temple in London. Both writers were asked to respond to a prompt, which was revealed to them one day in advance. The prompt took the form of a found document—the 1986 catalogue for Braintree Scientific, an American company that manufactures lab products used in experiments on rats and mice (pdf here).

Dolven’s book—a meditation on care and caring—imagines the catalogue itself as the trace of an experiment into the place of animals in the late-century scientific culture of the United States, an experiment that vacillates between the techne that frames animal testing and a desire to give solace to creatures on the verge of death. O’Reilly’s response to the prompt was to compose dozens of letters to the company in the guise of a wide range of characters, including an artist, a literary critic, a dissatisfied customer, several schoolchildren, and a man who, like the animals on display in the catalogue, is perhaps close to death.

Advance praise for the books
“Like Ding Ning or a fly, Jeff Dolven perceives time differently. This can be the only explanation for Take Care. To sound the depths of humanity through so narrow an aperture as the Braintree Scientific Inc. Catalog within twenty-four hours is a stunning feat of piercing, lateral thought. In a single day, Dolven has winkled from this inventory of gruesome equipment the momentous assumptions, shorthand, and oversights routinely embedded in such shrouded fields of practice.”
—Sally O’Reilly, author of The Ambivalents

“Sally O’Reilly’s degree of access to the Braintree Scientific archives—if in fact that is her source—is unprecedented; I don’t know how she did it. The letters she has brought us, wherever she found them, are extraordinary—by turns factually revelatory, piercingly insightful, puzzlingly off-topic, and simply heartbreaking. The editorial achievement is nothing less than genius. And all in the space of twenty-four hours! Surely among the year’s most significant work on the 1986 catalogue, or indeed, any other catalogue.”
—Jeff Dolven, author of Take Care

About Cabinet’s “24-Hour Book” series
Inspired by literary precedents such as automatic writing, by the resourcefulness of the bricoleur making do with what is at hand, and by the openness toward chance that all artistic production under severe constraint must necessarily incorporate, Cabinet’s “24-Hour Book” series invites a number of distinguished authors and artists to be incarcerated in its gallery space to complete a project from start to finish within twenty-four hours.

About Jeff Dolven
Jeff Dolven is a critic and poet who teaches at Princeton University. He is the author of two books of criticism, Scenes of Instruction (University of Chicago Press, 2007) and Senses of Style (University of Chicago Press, 2017), and a book of poems, Speculative Music (Sarabande, 2013). He has written frequently for Cabinet on topics ranging from player pianos to poisoned milk.

About Sally O’Reilly
Sally O’Reilly writes for performance, page, and video, interleaving academic research and technical knowledges with the comic, the fantastical, and the psycho-social. Besides contributing to several art magazines and numerous exhibition catalogues, she has written the novel Crude (Eros Press, 2016), the libretto for the opera The Virtues of Things (Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music, and Opera North, 2015), a monograph on Mark Wallinger (Tate Publishing, 2015), and The Body in Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson, 2009). She was writer-in-residence at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2010–2011) and at Modern Art Oxford (2016); producer and cowriter of The Last of the Red Wine, a radio sitcom set in the art world (ICA, London, 2011); and coeditor of Implicasphere (2003–2008), an interdisciplinary broadsheet.

Cabinet wishes to thank the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for their support of this project.