Charleston’s third installment of Pecha Kucha, an art gathering with a cult following that’s spread virally from Berlin to Bali, sold out once again. The success of the format surely ups the city’s hip-and-artistic factor at least a couple of notches. The Pecha Kucha concept, named after the Japanese term akin to "chit-chat" and unexpectedly pronounced pe-chak-cha (even the event’s charismatic host, artist-of-all-trades Marcus Amakar didn’t get it right), revolves around visual presentations consisting of 20, 20-second bullet-point-free slides. A giant flat-screen digital timer ticking away below the projector punctuates the (supposedly) stringently enforced time limit of six minutes and 40 seconds.
The June 3 gathering had a picnic-y vibe, with the audience spread out on blankets or reclining on lawn chairs in the small lawn near the corner of Calhoun and Elizabeth streets. The event attracts a crowd of creative professionals, the type inclined to live tweeting. Instead of scratching raunchy or inspirational commentary on a bathroom stall, this arty, tech-savvy set texts away on their iPhones, their musings instantly appearing on the flat screen to the side of the stage. Yet historic Charleston still falls a step behind the techies, with computer glitches awkwardly stalling several presenters – especially embarrassing for an event built around the idea of edgy digitalism that demands time management.
With the sun setting in the background, photographer and multimedia artist Kevin Hoth (a City Paper contributor) opened the lineup. He presented slides of his beeswax coated beard and pluff-mud covered body, mentioning his plans to live under a bridge for an upcoming Redux Show.
Josh Martin of the Coastal Conservation League narrated a dismal yet passionate slideshow on uncontrolled and ill-planned suburban development.
Founder of the Afro-Latin dance company Buen Ache, Julia Jaskwhich shook with nerves while reading the poignant and humor-infused journey of her love affair with dance from a sheet of paper, recalling herself as a multi-culturally ignorant Carolina girl fascinated by the butterfly dance her high school’s segregated step team performed in the ‘90s. She concluded with a spirited routine she performed with her troupe, suddenly self-possessed and magnetic in the rainbow flurry of long, ruffled skirts.
Master caterer Chef Iverson Brownell, who’s made appearances on The Today Show and the Food Network, showed a slew of mouthwatering slides that included a shot of the fried lotus roots reminiscent of film reels he designed for Sundance Film Festival after-parties.
The elegant, U.S.-Congress-nominated architect Jane Frederick shared photos of her favorite buildings, such as a shot of a Modernisme rooftop by Gaudi, in her Alabama drawl.
Skateboard-enthusiast Ryan Cockrell closed the series. Although the demo ramp he installed in the corner of the yard added an alternative element to the atmosphere, his argument for the necessity of funding a skate park in every neighborhood was admittedly a hard sell.
Perhaps more than anything, the event serves as a tool for the artistic community to connect with like-minded individuals. With $5 admission, the only obstacle to attending the next Pecha Kucha in September will be getting your hands on tickets.