About the WHY Conversations

by Joan Schuman


We take stock at momentous intervals. Trickhouse is a rambunctious 5-year-old.


To commemorate, I sifted through hundreds of often spontaneous creative eruptions, some compelling for their very oddity. Others were less jagged at the edges, but also less categorizable. Understanding how a piece of writing could be a sculpture or a dream becomes a painting is alluring. The distillation to five artists (plus head curator) reflects what pulled at me while combing through Trickhouse, what resonated and intrigued, and, particularly, engaged my own proclivities towards material combination. Participatory boundaries are vague: who is maker and who is consumer? An artist is a curator. A curator can be a storyteller. The bricoleur prevails.


Noah Saterstrom, Trickhouse’s founder, invited me to celebrate all this collecting and creating. We kept referring to it as “The WHY” project. Typographically those caps stood out as guidance for the ensuing conversations. New narratives would be carved by my own editing (metaphoric razor blade—now a mouse click). Melding their voices, in some cases, their own artistry or raw sonic materials—or audible elements I constructed to frame their vocalized words—is my art practice.


These artists revel similarly in the marriage of material (often multiple and at odds) and concept (interdisciplinary and equally stitched together). Like storytelling, a curator’s job and my own inclination towards suturing sounds and words and voices, fed my curiosity. Less motivated by story’s sequential linearity, I was more compelled by plot’s juicier foray into causation.


“Tell me a story about a moment when you discovered your current approach to art-making,” I asked.


Caroline Bergvall’s hesitating response traveled to my ears across an ocean and a continent: “No … never … no, there’s no strike of the match, nothing but pleasure and that can be epiphany itself.”


The WHY conversations begged for audible whispering into the ear. Distant geographies didn’t challenge so much as opened the edges of constraints. We arranged for Skype calls and whatever recording gear the artists could navigate, finding rooms that were quiet to record in while we chattered into our computers (again the bricoleur).


The ultimate WHY lands on the creative impulse itself. Writer Fanny Howe says it’s a form of promiscuity or wanderlust. Listen to the artists in this collection. They were generous in their wanderings, opening a doorway into their passionate practices. Art opens new places, affords glimpses not glimpsed before. When Helen White mentions a poem small as a pebble to swirl around the mouth, you follow her dragging words off a page to dab them onto the sculpted body of a woman. Kevin Allen’s asynchronous experiments around image and sound lure us into a changed relationship in this tactile, filmic realm. Each of these featured artists beckons new glimpses. For more detail, follow their links. Compare what was featured of their work during the first five years at Trickhouse Archives to what they’re exploring now.


For the full auditory experience, please listen in headphones by following the LISTEN link for each of the conversations. If you want to download to listen later, right- (or Control) click the pop-up audio slider.


Do celebrate.