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PechaKucha ‘chitchat’ format illustrates School of Arts research

- Wits University

The Wits School of Arts (WSOA) inaugural Postgraduate Research Day was a confluence of arts research and creativity.

The Research Day, hosted by the Arts Research Africa (ARA) project in WSOA, showcased the research of master’s and PhD students in the School. Twenty-six students delivered presentations at the Research Day on 4 May 2019, in the demanding 20x20 PechaKucha format, which requires students to present their research creatively in a way that captivates and engages the audience.

PechaKucha (Japanese for ‘chitchat’) is a concise and fast-paced presentation format devised by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in Tokyo in 2003. The format allows presenters to show 20 images for 20 seconds while simultaneously discussing the images for no longer than 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

Zanele Madiba, ARA project coordinator, said, “we experimented with the PechaKucha format to prompt our postgraduates to learn how to present their ideas quickly and effectively, using a combination of their own personal speaking style supported by images.”

Judges at the event, Avril Joffe, Head of Cultural Policy and Management, WSOA; Dr Samuel Ravengai, Head of Theatre and Performance, WSOA; and Dr Marietjie Pauw, Mellon Foundation postdoc, Stellenbosch University hailed the creativity displayed at the Research Day.

Bettina Malcomess

Bettina Malcomess (Film Studies) won Best PhD Presentation and a cash prize of R3000 for her striking research presentation on the interconnections between visual technologies and the colonial imaginary of space and time, which draws from her deep archival investigations in South Africa and the UK. Karima Effendi (Film and TV) won R2000 for the best master’s presentation on her research for a film essay exploring the relationship between the construction of apartheid 'publics' by the visual symbols of Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, and the potential for the creation of ‘counter-publics’ in the present day. Anézia Asse (Heritage Studies) won the Audience Award – the most popular presentation as voted by the audience – for presentation on her research into the changing relationships between communities and treasure-hunting syndicates, and the wealth of undersea artefacts around the island of Mozambique. She received a cash prize of R1000.

Madiba says that the event served as a platform for students to present their research to other students, researchers and creatives.

“Our postgraduates tend to work alone in a very isolated fashion with only their supervisor for feedback.  We wanted our postgraduates in the Wits School of Arts to start thinking of themselves as part of the Wits research community. The Research Day provided them with an opportunity to network with each other and find points of research collaboration.”