Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pecha Kucha in Review x2

Kung Pow Kara beat me to it but here are some extra thoughts...

Pecha Kucha night came back to Shanghai for its 5th installment last Thursday, March 8. The event took place at Kong Gallery located on the top floor of The Source on Xinle lu, a streetwear clothing store. This particular location seemed quite fitting considering the large focus on street art and culture in Shanghai as presented by gallery curator and photographer Rodney Evans and his partner Nick Barham.

Pecha Kucha, which literally translates to “Sound of Conversation,” in Japanese was conceived by Tokyo based architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. The event is meant to serve as a forum for young artists to meet and show their artwork on a public platform. Conceived only in 2003, Pecha Kucha nights have spread to venues across the globe due to such an overwhelmingly positive response.

The really clever thing about Pecha Kucha, though, is the abbreviated format. Each artist has the stage for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds, allowing them to show 20 pieces of their work in 20-second snippets, keeping the material concise and the interest level up at all times. Pecha Kucha Shanghai (which began less than a year ago in May, 2006) seems to have a way of attracting an especially wide variety of artists and art lovers from all over the world to discuss any and all types of media. At the most recent installment at Kong gallery, 14 artists presented their work in realms ranging from photography, architecture, graffiti and music just to name a few.

Admittedly, the collective works were a bit contrived, allowing a few presenters to wax philosophical on flowery issues like the meaning of true art. Some of the misses included (but were not limited to) photo sets of various rooms in their natural lighting and some rehearsed prose on street art and all of its connotations. On the other hand, there were a handful of artists who came prepared with really innovative and thoughtful presentations. They ranged from fresh web designs, computer graphics and streetwear design made by quirky design duo Lin Lin and Sam Jacobs, to a fascinating thesis discussing a hybrid of architecture and fashion design as inspired by a mythical fairytale presented by architecture student from Canada, Andrea Lin.

Pecha Kucha nights give all of the artists a chance to talk about their vision and put themselves out there, making the experience perhaps a little fluffier than I would have liked it to be, but also inviting some pretty interesting open-ended discussions. Not to mention the vibe was overall quite friendly and surprisingly un-pretentious, although the cheap drinks certainly helped to lighten the mood. If anything, who can deny a 30 yuan entrance fee and some prime people watching?

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