AK: Can you tell us about Cabinet's history and format?
SN: The nonprofit that publishes Cabinet was founded in 1999 by artist Brian Conley and myself, and the first issue appeared in December 2000. The magazine has remained pretty much consistent since. Some of our regular columns have changed, but we've more or less had a similar mix of interviews, artist projects, and essays by artists, writers, and academics. There's a catchall section, a set of columns, the occasional audio CD, and a themed section. Past themes have ranged from the concrete, such as "Animals" or "Horticulture," to abstract notions with a long lineage in philosophy, such as "Evil" or "Chance," to topics that ought to have a sociology but don't — for example, "the Enemy," where there is no such thing as Enemy Studies and no one great book that examines how we've thought about the enemy historically.
AK: What is Cabinet's mission?
SN: Cabinet was founded around three distinct missions, which we hope resonate productively against each other. First, we wanted to have a magazine that reflected how artists thought about the world around them and had the same diverse subjects that you might find on the bookshelves of artists today. That's why a history of urban warfare is as likely to appear in our pages as a history of the doughnut; we call ourselves an "art and culture" magazine, but we try to operate with as expansive a definition of those words as possible. The exuberance that artists bring to their work is something we wanted to have in the magazine, and we're not afraid of having the serious next to the humorous or even the absurd, even though some people imagine this means that the serious is not being taken seriously — we obviously disagree! Another characteristic of this approach is that it is less concerned with judging what is good or bad or with policing the boundary between in or out; rather, it's about trying to better understand the ambient culture. Our gambit is that this better understanding is always "critical" in that it helps reveal the contingencies behind the world as it exists today and that knowing things could have been different is crucial for believing that things can be changed for the better.