PechaKucha Tel Aviv draws record crowds to its eclectic platform, where artists have six minutes and 40 seconds to present themselves and their work.
By MARGARET STONER
About the only thing consistent about art is its inconsistency.Throughout the course of history, we have observed the birth and death of great artists, styles, genres and forms of presentation. In light of the technology boom of the past few decades, we have seen contemporary art take previously unfathomed shapes and forms.This month in Tel Aviv, we once again witnessed the effect new art and art forms can have on the public. PechaKucha Tel Aviv, a unique presentation by eight artists in just over one hour, attracted an audience of 4,000.Architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Architecture originally designed PechaKucha in 2003. One February night, the designers held the first PechaKucha night in their Tokyo gallery/lounge/bar, SuperDeluxe.The name “PechaKucha” was taken from the Japanese word for “conversation.”The perfect platform for artists to showcase their work, the event can be held in any venue, and anyone can present, making it a true “conversation” between the community’s artists and onlookers.The strict format of PechaKucha cannot be changed. That is one of the key premises of the presentation. Each participant is allotted exactly six minutes and 40 seconds to present his piece.Why such a simple, compact format? The designers of the event have a simple answer: Architects talk too much.But how long will this form last and how far can it go? In July 2007, the first evening was held in Tel Aviv with an audience of 250. The second brought 600 attendees; the third 1,000. The event then moved to the Jaffa port, and finally to Hangar 11 at the Tel Aviv port, where 2,000 people attend the event.On February 9, PechaKucha was held again in Hangar 11. Some 4,000 guests streamed in and out of the warehouse for the back-to-back performances at 7 p.m.and 8 p.m.The crowd filled the large room, some carrying cups of beer or cocktails from the cash bar. With two large screens and one smaller one in the middle, there were no bad seats to be had. DJ Aficomen got the vibe going by playing avant-garde, electronic and instrumental tunes from his DJ booth on the center stage.It is impossible to categorize the artists as a group. Each arrangement was as different as the last. Some notable presentations included a video by the Haifa-based urban art group Broken Fingaz, about their trip to China where they explored the sights, sounds and smells of the East while creating phenomenal large-scale artwork around the country.Other presentations included a set of photographs of explosions on the set of action movies in Eastern Europe by Merav Marudi. A pair of dueling DJ’s, Ofer Tal and Uri Wertheim, finished off the night with a survey of the generations of Israeli music, complete with pictures of old album covers.Shai Golan, a Haifa-trained artist, explained his difficult-to-categorize presentation: “It’s about two different kinds of fonts. I try to see what these fonts have to say about Israeli society. The fonts are Frank-Krill and Arial. Frank-Krill is about 100 years old and is used for all the Hebrew newspapers until now. Arial is about 20 years old and is used for the Internet – Ynet.co.il, walla.co.il, all those websites.” The combination of verbal presentation and slide show seemed to be the perfect format for Golan’s unique exploration.PechaKucha is not about money (the NIS 20 entrance fee covers the expenses of the evening only), so presenters are always focusing on projects outside of their six minutes of PechaKucha fame.Golan is trying to improve the local community through design. “I am working on a project to teach design to teenagers who don’t have a home and see what I can do with those children,” he told The Jerusalem Post.There is no stopping PechaKucha. Since its beginnings in Tokyo, the concept has been implemented in more than 380 cities across the globe. To date, Tel Aviv attracts the largest audience of any PechaKucha worldwide and will continue to host evenings with an ever-growing audience every four months.It seems like this format, at least for now, is here to stay.
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