The Machinations Of: Trickhouse

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In this installment of The Machinations Of we hear from Noah Saterstrom, founder and head-curator of Trickhouse, a dynamic, collaborative, and altogether expansive online magazine that you need to see to believe.


1.)  Who do you imagine your ideal reader to be?

When we first started out, I was thinking the Trickhouse visitor would be ‘everybody’.  But not surprisingly, the visitors of Trickhouse are most often poets, artists, people who go to art galleries, read voraciously, go to see art films, see live music, teach, make and/or appreciate artistic experiments.  From what we can tell, Trickhouse visitors are the kind of people who, if you were putting together an art performance event, would actually show up, even if they didn’t know what it was going to be.  In fact we’re putting together a Trickhouse event like that tonight (at Casa Libre en la Solana, the writing non-profit in Tucson) and I don’t even know what it’s going to be.

2.)  How did your journal start?

The idea for starting a publication or exhibition venue had been in my mind for years, but in 2007 I was taking a little break from painting and was traveling, had just taught myself web design and the time was right to get it going.  I was talking with a lot of writers at the time who showed interest in the idea and that summer I co-taught a text/image class with Selah Saterstrom at Naropa University’s summer writing program in Boulder, CO and a lot of the writers and artists I met that summer (Chris Funkhouser, Bhanu Kapil, Anne Waldman, Sara Veglahn and many others) helped to populate and support the first issues of Trickhouse.  It could not have gotten off the ground without all those people talking it up and making new work for the first issues.

3.) What other journals do you imagine to be in the same aesthetic constellation as you?

Well, Christian at Tarpaulin Sky has given us a lot of support and guidance and our trusted curator Deborah has been an editor of Drunken Boat, so both of those journals are of similar mind.  Originally a lot of inspiration for Trickhouse came from the great and strange print journal Esopus and Cabinet Magazine and other online experiments like and  I used to love going to the Hotel St. George Press site, but it seems to not exist anymore, any idea what happened to it?  Also Slope journal is unhinged in a way that Trickhouse is.

4.)  If you had infinite funds or resources, what do you imagine your journal would look like?

Infinite?  It would be an actual building, a tall building, maybe in New Orleans, or on a beach, perhaps made of amber-tinted glass or mirrors and when you walk in you have a two-story façade with ten doors and behind each door is an installation, exhibition, film, performance, laboratory experiment, lecture, cooking demonstration or artistic collaboration in progress.  Maybe there would be a little café and bar on the mezzanine so you could make a day of it.  Each room would have a different feel, some with carpet, or wood floors, or dirt floors, or red velvet wallpaper, each room with a different smell and acoustics.  Each room would be curated by someone different, like it is now, but the curator and all the contributors would be paid, unlike now.  I guess if funds were really infinite, we could make it so that it could move from location to location, different places around the world, and it would be a residency for the curators, artists, writers, performers, scholars, thinkers and experiments of all variety.  They could have a week or two to create work and collaborations for display.  I could go on like this all day.

5.) Why (or for what purpose) does it look & operate the way it does?

The doors?  Primarily, we’re trying to keep the visitors from getting lost.  There’s a lot of content in each issue, works of many genres and mediums: image, text, sound, video, interactive works, site-specific works, and lots of spontaneous creations, often mysterious and improvisational works.  We don’t mind if the work itself is at times confounding, but we don’t want the layout of the site to be confusing and so you can just walk in a door and walk right back out again.  I originally developed the Trickhouse doors on the design of a bordello – hence the name – but now I think of it as any hallway of doors, like in a manor house, or hospital, or office complex, orphanage, or whatever.  It’s the thing that visual artists and writers often find themselves thinking:  we need a stable form to hold unstable content.  Now my sister Jessica at Glass Egg Design is donating her time and talents to designing the homepage for each issue.

6.)  What is your favorite non-art, non-lit magazine?

Saveur has great pictures of food and Cosmo has preposterous quizzes. I really like magazines for all the photos, Rolling Stone and National Geographic, but I pretty much only buy them in airports.  I only buy magazines that have lots of pictures.

Visit Trickhouse here.


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