Pecha Kucha: Kuwait Inaugural Night

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Yesterday I attended the first Pecha Kucha night here in Kuwait City.  Pecha Kucha Night (click here), which I found out apparently means "chit chat" in Japanese, is a way for artists and anyone with ideas really, to present their thoughts and work to a public audience.  Basically, each presentor is given the chance to show 20 slides, each lasting 20 seconds each, for a total time of 6 minutes and 40 seconds.  I think the format works really well, and obviously this is backed up by evidence, because there has been a Pecha Kucha Night in several cities around the world--I believe the organizers said more than 160.

There were several different groups of people showing their work.  Although it was architecture-heavy, I believe this is a good thing.  What struck me the most is that most architects are cognizant of Kuwait's failed urban planning and aware that in its quest for "bigger is better" Kuwait has lost its voice.  Its architecture does not tell a story, and therefore as the first presentor put it "the people are missing".  It seems like the generation of 20-40 year old professionals are self-aware of their great responsibility to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and to try to turn around the current trends in urban design--that is to create a cityscape that respects culture and its past.  

I really enjoyed an analogy one of the architects made.  He said that Kuwait needs to find value in the beauty of how things age--that this process does not necessarily signify deterioration and can be beautiful in itself.  He said that at an exhibition once he and his team made a simple block sculpture out of salt.  The picture of the original sculpture was simple, angled and sleek.  However, they then left the sculpture a week in the open air to weather the elements.  The sculpture then lost its shape as a result--but had interesting creavices, circles and holes born into the surface.  The resulting sculpture was also, if not even more beautiful than the original.  The same needs to be taken into account with the built environment, that just because things age and change form, this does not mean that they should necessarily be bulldozed over.

There was also a great caution about Kuwait's skyscraper obsession.  Kuwait has plans to build a tower that will surpass the one being built in Dubai, set to be the tallest building in the world.  The presenter asked what the point of all this was and if having this would really fit the landscape and make the skyline beautiful.

I think the kick-off of Pecha Kucha in Kuwait was an overall success, although I was surprised that after all the presentations, when the moderator asked if there were any questions, nobody raised their hand.  I rose mine and asked a question on the spot to try to break the ice, but I was the only one.  It is wonderful that all these artists meet together, but if not one person in the audience has a question, what does this mean in terms of the commitment and interest of the attendees to be the change they speak of?  I hope that people come out of their shell more for the next round, and that there is more dialogue between the artists.  I was even thinking that the artistic scene in Kuwait should work on having a wide-distribution literary magazine.  I do not think there is one currently. 

4 Responses on "Pecha Kucha: Kuwait Inaugural Night"

  1. Thomas says:

    Dear 29 20 N, 47 59E,

    I follow your blog with much interest. It's among the few I do here in Kuwait.

    On the included link you'll find a bit more in-depth breakdown of some of the point I made during the PKN event:

    Looking forward to future correspondence...


    Victoria says:

    thank you thomas, have looked at it. yours was one of my favorite presentations and a great opening statement for the event.

    Victoria, hello. Hot off the heels of Pecha Kucha Night number two, I googled it and found this. You were wondering about a regional comprehensive art magazine. Have you heard of The Kuwait Review? It's on hiatus now but the man behind it has started a blog called Artvark which he intends on turning into a tactile, three dimensional publication by September hopefully! Check his blog out: Artvark.ME
    Can't wait to read your review of PKN2.

    Victoria says:

    Hi Ghada!

    I am actually a huge fan of your work so its an honor to see you found my blog. I just reviewed pecha kucha, I thought the first one had a bit more zing and daring, but curious to know your thoughts. I am going to read your blog post on it now. Thanks for letting me know about the Kuwait Review and the blog artvark I had no idea about it and can´t wait to explore it!