Winter 2011–2012


24 x 24


Rome was not built in a day, but could a magazine be produced in twenty-four hours? This was the question that the current issue of Cabinet was designed to consider. 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, the themed section of this issue includes contributions by twenty-four artists and writers who were given twenty-four hours—exactly—to complete a project that responded to a prompt sent to them by the editors.

On the one hand, this may seem like an exercise in editorial sadism, further exaggerating the time crunch faced by working artists and writers. Nothing could be further from the mission of a benevolent non-profit whose brief is purportedly to create the conditions for considered reflection. On the other hand, unburdened from some of the usual parameters for both evaluation (and self-evaluation), there is a kind of paradoxical freedom that accompanies such a radical constraint, one that encourages unorthodox forays in both subject matter and style.

Given the mechanical nature of the conceit behind this issue, it was clear that a set of loosely framed questions around daily time would be useful starting points, both for the contributors and for our readers. The staggeringly diverse responses to our prompts (reproduced below) can be found in the contributions that follow.

Dear “24 Hours” issue contributor,

Choose one of the three prompts below as the starting point for your project. Bear in mind that all kinds of approaches and subject matter are equally welcome, including those that draw on historical, scientific, personal, literary, phenomenological, philosophical, sociological, medical, legal, economic, anthropological, spiritual, zoological, and botanical perspectives and/or artifacts, just to mention a few!

As stated before, contributions that use text, image, or hybrids of the two are all acceptable, as are unorthodox formats, including diaries, charts, graphs, receipts, calendars, advertisements, budgets, menus, correspondence, and lists.

1. Consider different ways in which daily time is kept or administered—from the daily planner to the structure of mealtimes, from the ringing of church bells to our hygiene habits—and how they form and inform our experience of day and night. Specific episodes or incidents are as welcome as broader or more speculative considerations.

2. Depict a day in which dayness itself—its temporal structure, its specific length, form, or limits—was specifically brought to the fore. This can be a day from the past, or the very day on which you are doing this project. Feel free to draw on your personal life or on historical materials.

3. Choose one of the four following divisions of a given 24-hour period—morning, afternoon, evening, night—and create a project that considers or inhabits its particular “being” or “mood.”

We look forward to receiving your projects.


If you’ve enjoyed the free articles that we offer on our site, please consider subscribing to our nonprofit magazine. You get twelve online issues and unlimited access to all our archives.