Over the summer, Professor Jeff Dolven wrote a book in twenty-four hours. The book, Take Care, is the fifth volume in Cabinet Books' “24-Hour Book” series. A response to a prompt in 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—Take Care is a meditation on care and caring that tests the techne of animal experiment against the desire to solace creatures on the verge of death.
Dolven’s book, and its companion volume, Sally O’Reilly’s The Ambivalents, were created simultaneously in New York and London. At 7 am Eastern Daylight Time (12 pm British Summer Time) on 18 May 2017, Dolven and O’Reilly were sent a PDF (available here) of the Braintree Scientific catalogue, whose gruesome contents are belied by a cover featuring a stylized version of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, with a female rat cast as the goddess of love. One day later, Dolven and O’Reilly arrived at their respective locations—Cabinet’s event space in Brooklyn and a room in the Inner Temple in London—without any prepared material. Twenty-four hours later, both books had been written, designed, and sent to a printing company.
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 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.