Pecha Kucha Charleston has become a not-so-secret society that everyone wants to join. Case in point was the sold out PK5 event Thursday evening at its biggest venue yet, the Hippodrome Theatre. The gathering featured artists of the tangible and intangible, each living by the mantra, “Don’t fight it. If you’re supposed to be an artist, you’re going to be an artist.”
Crowds stood in a long line to buy beer before things got started, chatting it up with friends and strangers at volumes way above a pleasant hum. Enthusiasm mounted when the audience stole a peek at the PK5 screen. Presenters stood up front, dwarfed by the bigger-than-big IMAX screen. The audience watched with rapt attention — eating their concession snacks and drinking cold beer out of buckets.
In general, it felt like the presenters didn’t know where to look. A couple of them faced the audience; most turned halfway to the screen. One presenter I wouldn’t recognize in a lineup, because she never faced the audience. And Nathan Durfee paced back and forth, gesturing wildly to his audience and his slides. Once Skirt! magazine’s Nikki Hardin dropped the f-bomb, cussing became open game. Did the audience mind? No. The scrolling Twitter updates on the right side of the screen championed her quotation, and I heard many attendees muttering in the lobby, “Can you believe she said that?” followed by laughter and nods of admiration.
Pecha Kucha is an event where we are all “free to be me.” Nikki Hardin proved it with her spattering of creative inspiration (“Sometimes, you gotta hang up the mental fuck-it tape”). MC Michael Gray used off-color, self deprecating humor, and for a moment, we thought we’d fallen into Comedy Fest. Painter Nathan Durfee described his “process,” even if it is sometimes just him, alone in a studio, watching paint dry. And tattoo artist Jason Eisenberg summed it all up: We have one life and one shot. Art can be destructive. It can be addictive. But no matter what, it cannot be fought off. An artist is an artist, and again, Pecha Kucha reminded us why we love our “Kingdom by the Sea.”