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We conclude our series on creativity in exile with a conversation with Sun Key-an artist who makes decorative design from fluorescent materials. He talked about how festival life inspired to do decoration, and more specifically, string-art.

I am involved in art activities, decorations and visual design in general. I emigrated from Belarus in January 2011, as the political situation was already bad. In 2010, Lukashenko’s elections took place (I don’t say “presidential” because it’s been Lukashenko’s elections for many years). It was clear that nothing would change in my native country and I had to leave:).

During this time I managed to live in different cities of different countries: in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic. Now I live in Poznan.

The work I do is stringing art installations from threads.

Nails are hammered into wooden laths, the whole thing is painted black so that the frame is not visible in the dark. Neon threads are wound on the nails, which glow in ultraviolet light. I started doing this back in Belarus: it was such a part of our local subculture. We did installations at festivals and parties in clubs. We cooperated mainly with Organic Family, whose members also left long ago for different countries.

I did string art for the first time in 2008. That summer I came to my parents and during the conversation with my father I told him about my thoughts and creative ideas. My dad is an engineer, he listened and answered what and how i could do. We had a beer, sat down and immediately drew a design project. A few days later my father sawed the first rails out of wood, from which I then made the first installations, which are now used at festivals. In August of the same year, my friends asked me to make a set for their private party. It was very spontaneous, but I met people who helped me and it went very well.

If you start making installations from scratch, it’s quite a long process. I had a certain amount of materials. In short, if you need to nail 500 rails, you can do it in a month and a half.

About the performance.

I made decorations in Belarus for the festivals “gates” and “Karavan”. These were psychedelic-trance events, with chill-out space and various directions of alternative music and art. Outside Belarus I worked for festivals in Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Ukraine. Sometimes we had our own venue, and once chill-out space.

A lot of projects were developed before COVID-19: in 2018-2019 in Poland (Dharma main, Dharma chillout, Organic string art, Organic stage ), in Czech Republic (Ufo Bufo 2019), there was a private event in Prague in 2020 (link to video, link to photos). It turns out that I do it where I live.

Photo from the personal archive of Sun key

Festivals are a lifestyle for me.

For me it’s not only a vacation, but also a job. It’s nice to be able to make a beautiful space and have a vacation too.

A lot of festivals have come out of the underground. And now it seems like they’re getting more pop. But it’s an evolution. Some are moving in one direction, some in another: some become pop and make money, others become more private and go underground. But commerciality and money can’t be canceled at all – it’s our evolution. Some festivals have their own money. Money appeared a long time ago, in prehistoric times – it’s an exchange relationship between people: with the Indians it was, for example, cocoa beans or animal skins. Now it is a more definite evolutionary process, where paper money is losing its relevance and electronic money, online payments and bitcoins are becoming more relevant. For example, I don’t use paper money anymore because I only need to press a button on my smartphone to pay at the store. Money is an exchange transaction, so we can’t ban it. And it’s no longer beans, gold, or animal skins, it’s human contracts.

So we can see evolution as a fractal. We can see it in the size of a small festa, or we can see it in the global space. Modern, already big, festivals, for example O.Z.O.R.A were once small festivals, but now it is a global trend that takes place in Tokyo, Prague, and in various other cities and countries, and the festival site itself grows every year, a few years ago it was 60,000-80,000 people, and now it is almost 100,000. Now our communication is happening on a global scale. We understand the planet as a single organism, and each of us is part of a single global humanity.

About the spiritual teacher

In January 2011, Lama Ole Nydahl came to Belarus. My friend invited me to his lecture. It was very interesting and then I realised that the quality of life depends on the point of view of the events happening around us.

Our consciousness was not born and will never die, so there is nothing scary in what happens around us. From this point of view, fearlessness is born. We build our own path. At that moment I left Belarus.

About psychoactive substances

Sometimes at the festivals I mentioned above, people use psychoactive substances.

I would like to note that one should use them carefully and without fanaticism. Altered consciousness practices have been around for a long time and are not going anywhere. Shamanic practices of ayahuasca are becoming more popular, and shamans are helping with the transcendental journey. If it happens at an event, there are Psy Care sites where you can come and get help.

Photo from the personal archive of Sun key

I’ve lived in the Czech Republic in Prague for the last five years. There, for example, it’s legal to use marijuana on a domestic level, although it’s state prohibited. But it is still less dangerous than in Belarus. In the Czech Republic there is a psychedelic community that is working on legalising some psychedelic stuff. So I think we are moving in a good direction. We can legalise substances and people will be more educated on how to use them to their advantage.

Regarding self-awareness, I think that substances allow you to go beyond your own limitations. I’m sure it makes sense, but there has to be a culture of using these things. I know there are bad cases of people ending up in a psychiatric hospital, for example, so be careful.