Kabinett is an app with a mission to put critics and curators out of business. Well, maybe not ‘out of business’ so much as in the business of competing with everyone from a six-year-old amateur artist (the founder’s son, natch) to local scenesters and nascent gallerists. Anyone can upload pictures, write short reviews and share information about exhibitions, concerts, performances and other cultural happenings on its 1.0 version, which launched in late December and currently has about 1,200 users. Exceptional content is selected for a curated main feed monitored by experts, while other posts are shown only to followers.
Though it’s been described as “the anti-Instagram” for its emphasis on filtering out the noise that so many other platforms tacitly encourage, founder Eduardo Costantini, Jr. insists it’s really more like a small slice of the Internet that’s for creatives, by creatives—a locus for a kind of curated democracy that’s hard to come by in the art world.
“The idea is to have a global community of emerging voices as well as established artists that are going to talk about their work or the work of others,” he says. “Unlike Instagram, where people share any moment, instantly. Kabinett requires some more time for people to post. Our content is more thoughtful.”
It’s a lofty goal with an attractive, user-friendly interface to back it up—not to mention a founder with an impressive resume. Costantini got his start as the executive director of MALBA, the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, which was founded by his father. After making a splash showcasing the films of Chantal Akerman and Andy Warhol there, he worked as a producer with the Weinstein Company before co-founding The Auteurs (later renamed MUBI), a subscription-based platform for art house films.
The question is, can regular people be trusted to convey their experiences with art in a way that’s meaningful, interesting and insightful? Obviously, the team behind Kabinett believes the answer is yes, thanks largely to their social media forbearers. “We’re all photographers today,” argues Costantini. “It’s very different than 10 years ago. So that’s why a platform like Kabinett is born, to give rise to people in other mediums who want to tell a story.”
The company is working to organically expand its presence in the New York art scene and boasts active users in Los Angeles, Miami, Buenos Aires, Munich, Berlin, London, Sao Paulo, Spain and Uruguay. “If I go to a city, I’d rather know what’s happening through the eyes of a person. I don’t want to read what established institutions tell me,” Costantini explains.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the app is the potential opportunity it provides for up-and-coming artists and dealers to showcase work where it’s likely to be seen by the right person. It’s a Cinderella story heard often the age of Instagram and Artsy, and Kabinett seems poised to become a new means for those transactions. Assuming, of course, that the cultural cognoscenti wish to experience the world as Costantini does.