On May 22-23 2015 in Minsk space «Studio67», the electronic music & live video performances festival Mental Force — the first in the series of upcoming events — took place featuring such world-renowned audiovisual artists as Robert Henke’s solo project Monolake (Germany) and Tarik Barri (Netherlands/Germany).
These artists agreed to perform together at the request of the organizers Viktar Kamianiecki, Yuliya Kaviazina, Pavel Niakhayeu and Volha Salakheyeva who represent the Belarusian labels Foundamental Network and Force Carriers. By the way, this fact gives the festival its name, which refers to the labels themselves and precisely defines the concept of the event. Apart from the guest headliners, music and video artists from Belarus also took part in the festival, among whom i/dex, Alexei De Bronhe & Artemiy Kalinin, Pavel Ambiont & Solar Olga, ism, Khmarun & TXYZ, Apex Sphere, Poltishiny. Educational program was held the next day: Robert Henke’s and Tarik Barri’s lectures.
The project was supported by Goethe-Institut Minsk, as well as by other partners, but what regards the organization of the festival itself — its concept, planning, management and promo actions — it was a group of four people who were in charge of all. «We have discussed everything together, but each of us has a „super-power“ of his/her own, — Pavel Niakhayeu explains. — Julia is an excellent project manager, she is able to find the necessary contacts and equipment very fast, she is also good at planning the budget. Viktar is a professional designer, besides they were both engaged in web-site construction, Volha is a guru of media planning and PR, whereas I write all sorts of concepts, articles and translations». The idea of the festival did not come out of the blue. The group had already had experience in the organization of cultural events of various formats — musical, artistic, educational, and this is what they will continue to deal with in future.
— How did you come up with the idea of the festival? Was it a spontaneous thought or it had been prepared strategically, since one can feel that the event is really significant?
Pavel Niakhayeu: In 2008 Viktar Kamianiecki and Julia Kaviazina held peformances with European top electronic musicians (Vladislav Delay, Pole, Mikkel Metal), and in 2009 together with its main organizers they worked at the festival In-Touch creating an excellent experimental program (Signal, Zavoloka, Mika Vainio). Since the end of 2010 the four of us jointed our efforts in developing the festivalLive Performers Meeting — Minsk. It was set by the Italian team in cooperation with us and «Ў» Gallery of Contemporary Art. In the course of 10 months of work we received good training, we learned a lot and realized that together we could do a lot of interesting things. The festival was wonderful and gathered about 120 artists from nearly 20 countries — VJs, video artists, live coders, visual theaters and performers, musicians, researchers and others interested in the field of digital art and technology.
Since then we realized that music alone was not enough — it was necessary to address visual and performative components too, as well as education in this area, since nowadays any branch of contemporary art and popular culture use the benefits of digital media technologies with the latter not so immediately integrating these practices and techniques.
And in Belarus, unfortunately, after a couple of years of enthusiasm young artists — musicians and VJ/video artists — often get disappointed and turn to routine work and daily life. So it is an absolute necessity for creative environment to keep on pulsating being a field where they could create, display their work, obtain additional knowledge and experience, get inspired by collaboration with others — in short, this movement should never stop. And this can happen only through the cooperation of various communities over the years.