The Pecha Kucha PowerPoint Party

Oakland presents its own night, with an activist twist.

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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