Launched six years ago in Tokyo, Pecha Kucha started out as a forum for young architects to network and showcase their work. The format was simple and economical: Eight to fourteen presenters got to show twenty slides for twenty seconds apiece, clocking in at just under seven minutes total. It was, in other words, PowerPoint's version of a slam or remix. Pecha Kucha parties quickly caught on in hipster communities throughout Europe and Asia, and now happen in at least 182 cities throughout the world. Oakland's Pecha Kucha is one of the newest iterations of the event — so new, in fact, and so distinct from other Pecha Kuchas, that it has yet to be recognized by the international Pecha Kucha Night network. It started last October as a collaboration between Oakland's EastSide Cultural Center, KPFA's , and the San Leandro-based design company Samurai Graphix. The founders gave it their own twist by featuring artists with a political slant. "We respect that it comes from these architectural design roots, but we wanted to present architects of social change" said Hard Knock Radio host Weyland Southon, who cocurates the bimonthly Oakland event with EastSide staff member Maisha Quint. "That's what sets us apart from other Pecha Kucha parties. But make no mistake, it's still a party."
Four Pecha Kuchas have taken place at EastSide since Southon and Quint devised the event with the help of Samurai Graphix CEO Estria Miyashiro. Each event had its own theme, and each theme had a lot of latitude. October's "Home" event featured vintage photographs from West Oakland alongside pictures of Africa and the occupied territories in Palestine, while "New" included demonstrations of new-wave cooking, and a postelection slideshow of people in their Obama T-shirts. February's "love" presentation included a tribute to slain graffiti artist Mike Dream by muralist TDK, plus a presentation on "homo thug love" by queer Filipino artist Joël Tan. The organizers held a special March presentation to celebrate International Women's Month, with contributions from female artists and activists, many of whom have not gotten their due.
It's worth noting that this month's event "Great/Green/Earth" will coincide with Earth Day and Good Friday, said Southon. ("None of us are very Catholic or anything, but I just like that phrase. Good Friday. You know? 'It's all good.'") It will feature slide presentations by Keba Konte, Zakiya Harris, Esther Manilla, landscape architect Eric Maundu (who will lecture on hydroponic gardening), weed expert Ed Rosenthal, printmaker Favianna Rodriguez, and several others. Like all Oakland Pecha Kuchas, this event will highlight the intersection of art and politics while deemphasizing the entrepreneurial aspect. So don't expect the traditional bullet-point, race-the-clock format, said Quint. "The whole intent is that it's a relaxed vibe." On Friday, Apr. 10 at EastSide Cultural Center (2277 International Blvd., Oakland). 8-10 p.m., $5. EastSideArtsAlliance.com
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