Pecha Kucha night in Kathmandu

6 September, 2012 |  by

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How did an irish illustrator end up organising a Japanese style slide show night in Kathmandu? …its a loooong story….!

In 2010 I did a workshop for a short illustration workshop in Kathmandu University. Iposted about this on my blog and I then got a few enquiries from other artists/designers who were travelling to Nepal. I forwarded these over to programme director Sujan Chitrakar, but he was busy trying to run the course and couldnt fit in random workshops. One evening we were chatting about this over a beer and we both felt it was a shame that we didnt do the workshops. It would have been a sort of win/win situation with the visiting artists getting to see the cultural side of Kathmandu and the students could benfit from meeting the artists. It was also a shame because so many great artists and photographers travel to the country. Nepal is a very beautiful and photogenic country and it seems like every second visitor to the country is some sort of artist or photographer but very few of them get an opportunity to interact with the Nepali artists or contemporary art.

We discussed different ways of somehow arranging talks outside the structure of the University, maybe in the evenings when i thought of Pecha Kucha night. Pecha Kucha is a slide-show format where 20 slides are shown each for 20 seconds. The format keeps the talks short and to the point and is an interesting way for designers and artists to present their work, in London and Dublin it tends to be a kind of designers only event but in Japan it is kept very open and everyone from comedians, academics, grannies and politians have given presentations. It was started in Tokyo in 2003 and is replicated in 400+ cities. I had recently been living in Japan and spoken at the Tokyo PKN and i was really inspired by the format there, it was quite mixed it made a very interesting evening, its in a bar setting so its pretty casual which i really liked.  Their tagline is ‘thinking and drinking’. We thought PKN would be the perfect event for Kathmandu and decided …after quite a few more beers that we should set one up!

The only trouble was that i had come to the very end of my 5 month visa and in two weeks i had to leave… we decided to wait until i came back 9 months later.
We got the all clear from PKN headquarters and i came back for a couple of months in the spring of 2011.
 As we were putting together the line up we were thinking more and more about how great this event could be. We moved from thinking about it as an outlet for students into thinking about it as a great thing for Kathmandu in general. Kathmandu is a developing city and there arent yet many quality cultural institutions in place and we both felt that it had the potential to be a useful resource for the city in many ways. We had ideas about inviting a wide mix of speakers and get some NGOs based there speaking too. I did the poster and press and got in some speakers but Sujan in fairness did most of the organising.
We got a pretty incredible line-up for the first night. Our headline speaker was the ex-Kumari Goddess Rashmila Shakya who was worshipped as a Kumari Goddess as a child, she gave an amazing account of her life, she has written a book also,  Susmita Maskey who led the most successful ever women’s Everest team to the summit, an expert on Balinese theatre, Samantha from the Zoological Society London who was based in Nepal for research gave a talk on the importance of vultures, the spokesman from NSET the earthquake preparedness people gave a talk on the problems facing Kathmandu. As well as amazing artists Salil Subedi, Karl Knapp, Michelle Hall, Chirag Bangdel and designer Kreeti Shakya and media collective Sattya.

Sujan Chitrakar + Chris Haughton  What is Pecha Kucha? Why Kathmandu?

Dr Shiva Rijal  Theatre Expert

Salil Subedi Performance Artist

NSET (Ganesh JImee)  National Society for earthquake technology

Karl Knapp  Artist

Samantha Lee Zoological Society London

MIchelle Hall Artist in residence @ KCAC. Artist and teacher at an Aboriginal community Australia

Susmita Maskey Everest Summiter

Chirag Bangdel Artist / Poet / RJ

Anya Vaverko Sattya media collective, Kathmandu

Rashmila Shakya  Ex-Kumari and author