Dimitris Lessos from Ikaria: “I came back because I made a deal with my wife that if we have a child, he must grow up in a safe and healthy environment, which is not Athens …”
Dimitris has three diplomas and many jobs, AND his important concern and activity is to study, explore, preserve and educate others about the natural environment on Ikaria. He is a speleologist and knows over 40 caves on the island. He is also a member of a rescue team. ”I do many things, because I don’t like to be bored.”I think, for example, that my child can go alone to the town square from the age of six, because everybody is paying attention to what’s going on and looking after my child, just as I am looking after the well-being of other people’s children.We do not have policemen here, we are doing the job ourselves, always checking if everything is OK, so the thieves don’t steal anything, because if the owners catch you, they hit you, and the only way to survive is to run to police station, but we don’t have one here.
I try to use photographs to show the beauty of the nature to the locals, that’s why I practice photography. Here, even the people who work in the municipality don’t know the island, they don’t know its history. Once, I was doing an interview with an old man, and he told me something very useful about trees. If there are no male trees in the area, you must go to the river and find clear sand. Then, take the sand and wash the fruit tree very thoroughly from top to bottom and from bottom to top. This way, the fruit begins to grow and will not fall down as a small fruit. So it is important to preserve the knowledge of old people.
Local people do not dare to go into the caves. They know them from legends and stories, and Dimitri loves to dive deep into the magical mineral worlds.
… I want to do all this things – be a plumber, a photographer, an X-ray technician, and in my free time, explore caves, dive, hike, motorbike … In the summer, I do photography to avoid being bored, because there are weddings and baptising days.
The value we appreciate here, for example, is not to discriminate against the elderly and expel them to homes for the elderly. Why? Because they have the knowledge to pass on, and time for children as well.
Many people go to other countries to work, and they have lost the tradition of the island, they do not know its history, they do not know how to make the things you need in order to live here … So this is lost for the next generation. We need research for my generation to learn … This is also my role in the Ikarian society, to bring more knowledge about the island, about nature, first of all, trees, caves, history, languages … I am also a writer, and have published a book about ancient Ikarian languages.
Ikaria is OK if it has 15,000 goats, and now there are 41,000 of them here, since the peasants get big money from the EU to have goats.
We are policemen, volunteer firemen, volunteer rescuers, volunteer soldiers, since our politicians have signed a deal stating that there should not be official army on Ikaria, Samos, Chios. Therefore, everybody aged 22–65 is a volunteer. We keep weapons in our house, we have an airport and two harbors. They are a very easy target, Our neighbor the president is a little crazy. Not people, people are like us. The officers are brainwashed.
Panagiri – a traditional dancing & music feast on the Ikaria island (Aegina sea) takes place all around the island nearly every day from spring to fall. The Ikarians worship Dionysus, and celebrating life is part of it. Another, more recent tradition is keeping Marxist ideas as a prosperous living option for community popular. In other words, communist values are close to traditional Ikarian society > after the Greeks expelled the Turks from Ikaria in 1912, the Greek government used the island as an exile for about 13,000 communists. They could not wish for a better home than Ikaria. :))
The island has its own microclimate: we have trees from Central Africa, trees from Central Europe, cork oak … We have many, many different areas, so the people who live in one area don’t usually move to another much. So when they see my photos, they often say: ”Oh, this is Ikaria?”
When I was working on my sailing license, an old guy said to me: If you see clouds near the top of Fournoi (neighboring islands), or if flies are biting you, do not go sailing – the weather will change and the south wind will blow …
For me, my bottom line is friends, family, but onlyif they are good people, first of all ... Many people that are now in their 70s are a little strange, all of them! I love guys who give to and help other people without expecting money or thanks … Many people do it, I do it and I like it. If we are all doing it, we can feel safe as a community. I do not like Athens.
A beekeeper from the highlands of Ikaria, known for special bee honey made entirely from Ikarian herbs
Malania add a lot to the project ! She joint MED Land during September and October 2018 and se was involved in few stories and challenges on Chios, Ikaria, Syros and Aegina island in Aegean sea.. She was "cool" in all situations and ready to help and learn. It meant me a lot since she just finished her final practice as a doctor in the hospital and with joining the project did a shift in her life to experience her creative side through filmmaking & activism, targeting sustainable life, rights…short video about Melania
I went to Medland Project having recently finished my medical degree and with the fervent desire of knowing another ways of life. I come from Uruguay, Latin America, a country full of immigrants and with a colonial past. I went to Europe to reunite myself with my ancestors, my roots. In a continent that capitalism has changed so much the society, many people remain living with other values, in alternative ways that struggle in the daily routine to remain possible. But many people live still in alternative and usually creative ways of life, with another rhythm and connection with the land. MedLand Project searchs for this people, connects with them, makes them visible. Little was my knowledge about filmmaking, sailing or the Mediterranean sea, before going. In many ways, this project made me connect so much more with a continent that seemed to be far away from my own values. Sailing in Nalu across the Aegean sea, I learnt the sailor’s culture, lived in peace with nature, finding other agreements with life. I met extraordinary people living in Saros, Samos, Ikaria, Chios and other places we got to stay a bit. I learnt more and more the importance of art, once again, to connect, to communicate with one another. I wrote, filmed, learnt photography, transcripted, cooked, dived… among many other beautiful things I got to do. This stories and people that remain hidden to the mainstream media are the treasures to be valued in order the pursuit for an alternative and more healthy way of life, and I love to be a part of it!
Ikaria Island is like a crown chakra of the vast Aegean sea, the Mediterranean and beyond.
Can you sense that on the internet?
In 2018, I came here to meet Christodoulos Xenakis, and from the first moment, he shared with me and the MED Land team at the time (Melania and Kubilay) his heartfelt and passionate relation with Ikaria, taking us around and explaining past and present footprints on this ancient land. Christodoulos is 85 year old now, still running an organisation – the Institute for Ikarian Studies (IFIS). One of his compassionate idea was for each EU country to have one container house as an art residency place on Ikaria island. IFIS actually got one which was “waiting for the first“ country to make it happen for more than ten years …
The friendship with Christodoulos, as well as with other Ikarians that MedLanders met in 2019, has grown to this day, which is well reflected in the stories about the adventures of Christodoulos and other Ikarians such as Urania, Dimitris, Vangelis and others. The Med Land team also facilitated a land‑art stone sculpture project on Ikaria by international group of artists-geomants, which is still ongoing.
Here are some links to stories and news related to Christodoulos, Ikaria and Ikarians:
Ikaria has at least 15,000 years of continuous history of their own specific civilisation. Their main god is Dionysus. During the 600‑year period of pirates, they hid and lived untouched in the middle of the 1,000m high island. The communist ideas are still legit here to this day. Living with less, in a sustainable way, with a lot of music and dancing is what they like … the Dionysus way … Ikaria is also known for many people that easily reached 100 years of age … The recipe is not to live alone.
My top tree virtues of Ikaria that made me become its fen are:
the perception of time on Ikaria as one big “now” … Every day is a new day, and a reset of “priority and schedule list“ is normal, acceptable, a way of living;
awareness of the values of the Ikaria continent with the positive attitude towards sharing them. It is about being grounded and connected, not only on a human level;
openness to the rest of the world.
In 2020, Christodoulos offers us – the “Slovenians“ – a tiny container house to use it for the “project residency“.
In February/March and November/December 2020, four of us made it liveable! The idea is for people with creative aims to be able stay on Ikaria, live, experience, interact, and create something out of it.
"The measure, the aesthetics and the human are three different keys for happiness and balance in our lives, because you can see all aspects of all these three things in our lives."
“When we started the agency, I remember my mother saying to do it in a way that would not spoil the island. I use my skills, art and knowledge in tourism …"
Urania is dedicated and native Ikarian. Her father opened the first tourist agency on the island, which upheld the values of sustainable tourism from the very beginning.
“All aspects of our life come from aesthetics. Aesthetic is not just about art, it's about how we choose the people around of us, our environment, how how we dress, what we eat ... Aesthetics is also very much related to harmony, and harmony is based on the human proportion. The purpose is to be in balance, in which case we never go against the natural flow of energies in other words ... Aesthetics will make us better, will make us happy, because according to our taste, we choose our partner or lifestyle, a glass of wine we enjoy, and finally, it's the meaning of life ... But we don't pay much attention to aesthetics. We have to teach children to watch, to observe and make their own choices. For me, this is the beginning of a person's personality. All this has to do with our lower instinct, but if we don't use aesthetics, we cannot be masters of our instinct logic and soul. Brain and soul, these are two potentials we have to balance. We must respect our contribution, or our existence in the universe, and not try to force the change of the rules, because then it really becomes toxic and catastrophic. Aesthetics is about the big chapter - it's a big part of philosophy. This could be the applied philosophy in life, this is the key to making us open windows, to seeing things differently, to reestimating our position as humans, as individuals, as a smaller group, as well as people as part of the universe.”
Aesthetics is very much related to harmony, both are universal principles, and harmony is based on human proportions. If we are balanced, if we follow these principles, we never go against the natural flow of energies ... In other words, aesthetics will make us better, will make us happy.
Aesthetics is underestimated or ignored. Many people think it has to be linked to a specific field, when we talk about art, but in Greek, aesthetics – αισθητική (aisthitikí) – is a big chapter of philosophy, and I think this is applied philosophy in life, this is the key to making us open the windows to see our position, to reestimating our position as humans in the universe, starting from smaller groups and environments, such as community, the people of one's country, the people of one's continent, the people of the world, and the people as hearts of the universe.
Let’s go back to the fundamental unit, the human: aesthetics will make us better, will make us acceptable in a community, will make us happy, because we make our choices according to our aesthetics and our taste.
In my opinion, everything starts with this, and we have to teach the children to watch around and to make their own choices.
For me, this is the beginning of building a personality and a more complete human being.
The soul has to do with the lower instinct, but if we don’t use aesthetic, we cannot be master of our instinct, brain and soul. Logic and instinct are two of our potentials we have, and we have to balance them.
We need knowledge, aesthetics, and awareness about the people, because if we only care about ourselves, we cannot move forward (when I say about ourselves, what I mean is about ourselves and the people closest to us), we have to be more open and caring. It doesn’t mean we need to become victims, but to be generous.
To combine logic and instinct, one must have knowledge, awareness of one's environment, and aesthetics. These are the five boxes that enable us to move forward as personalities, get developed and be a member of community or a member of the universe.
All the rest, money, respect and everything, come later, because if you are aware and you have aesthetics you can respect yourself, other people, the nature, the environment, everything.
If we change our aesthetics, we will become more aware of the environment. For example, we will not accept so much plastic around us, we will be aware to preserve traditional style of the architecture, to keep our tradition, our costumes and our culture alive.
We can be more sensitive and protective if we have a very concrete idea about what we want our environment to be and if we can clearly see ourselves in a specific environment.
In order to achieve that, we have to be very precise according to our aesthetics. for example “Kitsch environment” comes from someone who ignores the term “aesthetic”, with all the expression of his life: environment, behavior, generally.
on the practical level
Years ago, I was invited to a council in the capital of Ikaria, where we had a meeting to talk about tourism. Our usual common problems are: lack of transportation, very bad ferry connections, especially back then, old abandoned cars beside the road, cleaning the beaches, and generally the way we handle waste and how we could train the people involved in tourism to treat visitors more professionally and carefully.
When it was my turn to talk, I said that the priority was to reevaluate our aesthetics of the island, because if we manage to do this and we train new generations, showing them that there are other standards of organizing life, we will never need to talk about all those practical things separately, because they will simply choose much higher quality environment to live in, which would affect the visitors as well.
If we create a little paradise in the middle of nowhere, people will know that they will discover a diamond, it doesn’t matter if there is one boat for months or for weeks, they will come just to experience this environment with us ... They didn’t get it.
I saw that all these people were raising children.
The role of Greece
Everybody was talking about the Greek crisis, the economical one, but it wasn’t only economical, it was also general, political, cultural.
There is a book called Ikarian Utopia, written by a French philosopher Étienne Cabet in the early 20th century... He’s describing the ideal society. Ikaria was a very special society, underground, because it was based on different values compared to other areas in Greece. Compared to other Greeks, the Ikarians were snobbish. But they discovered that we are happy and with less stress here.
They started looking for us again, to see what’s going on here. So I think that Ikaria is an example of how people can reevaluate their lives. And this is a great example, not only for Greece, but generally for people. Because there are people from all over the world – from Europe, from America, from everywhere – who know Ikaria as a good source of knowledge to reassess their lives and to change their priorities in order to achieve wellbeing, to achieve well-living. I think that Ikaria could be a very good example of wellbeing and well-living for all the countries in the Western world, not only Greece. Everybody was talking about the Greek crisis, meaning the economics. But it wasn’t the economics, it was a general crisis: political, cultural, parental ... If experts would examine the phenomenon of Ikaria, they would see that Ikarians were less affected during the period of the crisis, because of the way they organise their living.
One of the values we have here is ‘less is more’. Not quantity, but quality. The roots. There are different keywords that if we were to gather all together, I could explain the dream that I have: being in a human environment, having real, good communities with other humans. Human communities, not isolated but open, in their own way. My dream is to keep the values and the measure as we know them, because it is not by coincidence.
The important thing is that we create the time. Not the other way around … This is what happened today. I was busy in the office, I had many commitments. And in a magical way, without struggling, I ended up spending the entire day with you. I enjoy it, you enjoy it, and there was no stress of ‘oh my god, what’s going on’. With a couple of phone calls, everything is possible. Everything needs its time. And it finds its time, finally. Whatever it is that you want to sort out. I think the point is to get in a no-time situation. Sometimes it works better than to force things, to make plans, to try to make things happen. Somehow we use time as the measure to organize our lives. If we just start doing the things that we want to do and just let time follow the activities, rather than setting deadlines, it seems that it works much better for our mood and the achievements that we get.
For me, development means improving our lives in terms of quality, convenience and respect. Respect for balance, for tradition, for costumes, and for the specific characteristics of the environment and its people.
For me, art is the filter of our lives, our expectations, our experiences and viomon, through which we can look into the mirror, improve our ego, improve ourselves in what we wish to communicate with our environment.
You cannot create art if you don’t have viomon, the life experience that has been transformed into the very essential part of our being, a part of us. This is what I call viomon.
If you don’t have that, if you don’t have expectations. If you don’t have a vision of life, you cannot make art. You are flat. You don’t have anything to say or to communicate.
So, how are you using these things to create, if you want to be creative? What does it mean “to create”? I create something through which I want to show my improved self, my filtered self.
I filter myself through art, and I am here, ready to show you another aspect of me and to communicate with you.
People have the need to communicate. Why don’t they communicate only by talking to one another? Because their art, what they have created, is something new, is a new body, a new creation that they present to others.
This is the improved self: a self that also includes more magical elements and less realistic ones, which they could not use in different other ways.
I am quite active; I hate the phases “I belong” or “I am a member”, I believe in freedom and action, and I have done it many times. I took action whenever I felt that it was necessary to do something.
I feel a great responsibility and duty to act, whenever I can, for the rights of the people, for the humankind, for the environment, for this place.
I strongly believe in the values of the unit, the will of the unit and the freedom of the unit; because we are units with a free will that can move things forward, it’s exactly the opposite of a community.
Cooperation is necessary, contribution of a team with ideas and actions is necessary, but I will never accept to be a member of a union and act as a part of a union because I will not accept to lose my freedom of expressing my ideas, I think that it goes against the actions.
I will give you an example: if I am painting or cleaning the road and someone comes to me and says: “Listen, as you are cleaning the road, maybe you can join our club, you can be a member of the union, 'Cleaning with the rainbow'.” If I say yes, they will say, “Oh good, you have to come, read the statement, sign and come to the council to have meetings, and clean with the rainbow”.
Maybe it wouldn’t be acceptable to clean someone’s house if the person was a refugee and he should become a member of the community , he’s not paying the annual fee, so he’s excluded, “and after all, we don’t need refugees, because they don’t speak the language … So, we don’t clean”.
I wouldn’t agree, and I would go there and clean the house.
The next day, maybe the council would have a meeting to decide whether to expel me from the club.
This action would take my freedom to act as an activist away, whereas otherwise I would be able to do it without any consequences.
So, we are back at the beginning: if you want to do something, just do it. If you have people that need support, do it.
I do not belong in any council, in any local community.
One day, a union asked me to help them build a road to connect Therma to Nealia Beach.
They worked with some volunteers, but they need thr money to pay for the wood and some workers with the machinery.
At that time, I was broke because the season had not started yet, so I gave them one of my painting, a big one, and I suggested they make a lottery.
They managed to collect 1,600 euros, and that was more than enough to cover the wages. Then, they said to me: “We only need 800 euros, so you can have the rest”. I said: “No, because you made all the effort, I gave you my painting, all the profit is yours. If there is money left, just keep it, have a big party, feed the people who work as volunteers”.
They made the party, they bought the food and at the same time and at the party, they also collected extra money.
So they asked me if I wanted to be an honorary member of the association, and I said: “No, I am here, if you need something just call me and if I can do something, I will do it, but don’t put me in the difficult position of becoming a member.
I offer as much as I can. If you believe in that, you don’t need to make your life very complicated and make up rules everywhere.
Eleonora Pauli, Urania Mytika geting ready for self portrait, BB
Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Urania / audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli / transcription by Laura Mangumba and Giacomo Colonnelli / text editing - proofreading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story: Barbara Ćeferin
Gregor is known for his special way of simple living and activism based on loving kindness beyond all boundaries. Gregor and his friends established Slovenia Tibet Support Group 24 years ago, which became very influential.
Gregor has never really been into the Buddhist practices, but he had been to Tibet many times, always for good purposes such as organising tracking tours, supporting a school for local children, etc. He was also very active in helping refugees in Slovenia. He travelled around the world, visiting Arab, African and Asian regions several times and volunteering in different projects.
In February 2020, Gregor joined a MED Land art project team on Ikaria (Icarus’ island in the Aegean Sea). He also did a transcription of the story Lena from Lesbos. Recently, he helped with maintenance works on the boat. Gregor is also responsible for MED Land art residency on Ikaria and is therefore the right person to contact in this regard. Bojan and Gregor have known each other since the 1970s, when they collaborated on some projects. Now they have the opportunity to commit to doing something good again. And once again, it is a joyful experience, too.>>https://vimeo.com/443839354
Lena from Lesbos island: “They try to convince us that we are warlords, and selfish by nature … That otherwise, we will die sooner or later, that this is the nature of our race. No, no, this concept totally fucked up our planet, this is how ‘they’ want people to think, and most do not use much brain, that is true, but I believe many young people want something different …” Lena runs a very popular restaurant, NAN, where refugees and locals cook and serve. Half a million refugees crossed Mytilini – the capital of Lesbos. Lena was also part of a start-up group for setting up Pikpa camp, which 50,000 people crossed since 2012. "You can change things by doing things, and this change will be multiplied by other people, and so on.”
There was no time for personal life.
These kind of contradictions were very difficult for me to handle.
Working in this kind of environment is a bit like being on drugs ... it is like a drug, it intoxicates you ... We are involved with these people.
Aristotle began his intensive study of biology on Lesbos. He created a classification of animals as “live-bearing and egg-bearing”. Three of his books contain descriptions of fish, birds, insects and mammals that he found around the lagoon of Kalloni on Lesbos. It is considered the first scientific work in our history.
I came on the island in 1997 ... I fell in love with the island, it was very nice, and I worked as a teacher ...
... My husband is French, and he also could not understand why this need to spend so much time and energy on the refugee issues. ... It is very hard for people who don't feel this kind of social commitment. ... They where drowning in our waters, this is a tragedy because all of this beauty suddenly vanished.
Social issues lead to economical crises, because economical crises are never detached from social crises and a crisis of values.
Pikpa camp > Why ... Because it was necessary, I would say; because when people started to come, it was under the umbrella of many organizations, local organizations of different types ... Twenty organizations at that time. We are trying to unite our efforts in dealing with the Greek crisis ... But at the same time, the Greek crisis and the refugee crisis, and of course, big waves of refugees coming to Greece and Lesbos, we had to handle it all ... I think the biggest flow of refugees.
Pikpa camp is mainly based on and seeks to promote the ideas of community,of people living together in the same community without discrimination and prejudice. It is entirely based on volunteers and on donors. Now we have a lot of people who support Lesbos solidarity and the camp.
Before I began working and helping in Pikpa, I could never imagine that people could do so many things entirely voluntarily. There where a lot of things that were difficult, but we have a committed team, and where there's a will, there's a way. And I think this power of people, trusting each other to build a relationship of trust - I think it changed our lives in many ways, both positive and negative. As I told you, personal life is very difficult to maintain. We have relations with all these nations, all these people, since 2000 BC. We should not be so afraid to work together. We should be afraid when we exclude people from the common wealth of this world.
Environmental issues are much more urgent and much more serious than any economic or political issues that we bring up. Unfortunately, the ecosystem has no voice. We let people privatize water, air, beaches, privatize public wealth ... these are all social goods.
NAN restaurant project.
First of all, we wanted to have a restaurant where people could work and make there own living. When people are trapped, only despair can come out of it. When people there earned their income, it changed the entire situation. To give them a job was one thing ... the other thing was to raise awareness that instead of fighting against these people, we can work together. We can try to find ways to support them - not all of them, but some of them, the ones that can and want to contribute to the society that welcomes them. This is the message: that it's better to work together than to work against each other.
Everyone can see what we do everyday, it is transparent. Raising awareness about food - the slow food mentality. That people should take their time to sit around the table to eat and talk and share. There are many issues that are connected to food.
This is a company in which all employees will hopefully become partners.
Hiring a refugee with no experience of how things work in certain jobs is sometimes difficult.
I would like everything that we dream of the way we want Nan to work and to be ... For Nan to become be "the mother" of many similar enterprises ...
Lesbos has been my place of choice for many years now. But you know, every place is a nice place, depending on people. Last year, there was an attack on some Afghan protesting in a sitting demonstration. They were attacked by some locals. It was a very sad realization that we are living in a bubble. We mostly have people who support us, not only financially, but also morally, mentally ...When you find out that a large part of the community is silent or even against some actions, it is not very nice. I think this is sending you away, then inviting you back.
... in a situation like this, you have to choose which side you are on, and this is what we did ...
I would like to be able to leave this place satisfied ... that it will work without our presence.
- if someone says it's a threat, you should say it is an opportunity ...
Eleonora Pauli, a radio journalist from Berlin, joined the project for almost two months and produced 5 interesting WGO stories, as well as participated in the interviews for the main stories. She also showed sailing skills!
... you can bring change, and this change can be multiplied by other people and other people ....
Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Lena / audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli, text editing / proof reading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the story: Barbara Ćeferin
These were the last days when the Coronavirus was still “safe in China”. Ivana Petan, Gregor Erjavec and Bojan left by ferry from Venice over the Adriatic to Greece, to do the first steps for a long-term art group project on the island of Ikaria in the Aegean sea.
From Venice to Patras: Med Land project team on their way to the island of Ikaria in the Aegean sea
From Venice to Patras: Med Land project team on their way to the island of Ikaria in the Aegean sea
How to move, to touch, to live in times when moving and touching ...
... depend on who you are!
From sleepless mode ...
... to ...
... peace mode.
Cargo ship in front of the Port of Piraeus, Athens
YES, our destination was Ikaria - a Greek island some 30 miles from Turkey
Ever since, Ikaria is like a lighthouse for me in relation to other islands, deeply connected to the creative pulses of Gaia, with the traces of 15,000 years of continuous presence of humans here. The awareness of this connectedness, as far as I can sense, is still present, and the pulse goes beyond the Mediterranean Sea to Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Our MED Land mission this time was related to the project of Marko Pogačnik and the team of geomancers and artists who were planning to do the stone land art installations project on the island in order to reinforce the connectedness and spread the message over the Mediterranean. Our task was to continue preparation work on determining the location(s) for the installation, connecting to some key places that are expressing the vitality of Ikaria, finding the right stones, all in collaboration with the Ikarian team, artist Vangelis Rinas and Christodoulos Xenakis, the founder of the Association of Ikarian Studies. Ivana Petan, who collaborated in previous geomatic-art projects with Marko Pogačnik, was leading our field preparation tasks on the research of the geomantic aspects of the island, determining the location(s) for the installation and finding local stones that are also suitable for carving. Since Marko and the team could not come, we were doing some research while being telepathically connected, and it worked very well!
Our first destinations for exploring, connecting and understanding the geomantic aspects of the island were on the east side of the island, opposite the island of Samos
In the past. the inland walls, hidden from the "eye of the sea", were valuable and very useful.
Roman bath ruins
in the key spot for art - geomantic instalation -North side / Pharos (Ivana Petan & Gregor Erjavec)
THE act - roof repairs on the container house for our art / MED Land project residence in collaboration with the Institute for Ikarian studies
Christodoulos Xenakis, a native Ikarian, and Suzana were taking us to the spots to understand and connect with Ikaria.
Ivana Petan, experienced in geomancy and land art projects, chose the spots for our research.
On the top of Ikaria.
Visiting beekeeper. Like everything on the island, it is a ritual of hospitality, with food, wine, sweets and tsipouro brandy.
Susane and Christodoulos
Visiting beekeeper. Like everything on the island, it is a ritual of hospitality, with food, wine, sweets and tsipouro brandy.
The nature of Ikaria is to connect to other places in the Mediterranean and beyond, as well as to integrate the “above and below” levels of existence
Ancient Mandir stones on the east side of Ikaria were one of many (12+) locations where we were tuning in with the island.
Drakano - the rock on the E side of the island
Ivanas notes about Drakano and the rock - in connection with the being of the rock, I feel the rock rising up into the sky, and in the red pillar connecting the earth and the cosmos. my back space opens, allowing me to enter the causal dimensions of archetypes and ancestors, giving me the “wings” by allowing the freedom to breathe with awareness of myself. in the vision the head of the serpent - the dragon appears to me, which tells me that this is the place of spiritual power - of wisdom that originates and grows from the heart. I look towards Samos and Turkey. I feel them close, very close; this announces me their energetical connection and co-dwelling with a rock and the space of Drakano.
Tower of Drakano (tune-in place)
Under this tree in the village of Akamatra, the past three governors on Ikaria used to meet to make important decisions together. Each one had 1/3 of the seal, and to make a common decision, they had to assemble the entire seal to sign the document. Christodoulos' grandfather was one of them ... The team: Susana, Christodoulos, Gregor and Bojan .
Temple Of Artemis Tavropolion (tune-in place)
Icarus has his spot on the south side side of the island, where legend can be understood also in the relation with island. The legend goes that Icarus did not obey his father and followed his call to fly, to explore new dimensions of life. Where and how he ended up is not the point of this legend.
Marko, Ivana, Gregor an myself felt the importance of understanding Icarus as an archetype that maintains the meaning to this day,
On the west side of Ikaria, there are special rocks - angelic formations, some so large that traces of prehistoric inhabitants were found inside (tune-in place)
Randi forest in the central Ikaria was also one of our "tune-in" places on our research trip for the geomantic art installation.
Limnos island -hill above Myrina town, is a an old sacrad palce. Here I could face the reality that the architipal forms of life were long before formed in mineral world
Back to WhatsApp? She could at least search for Wim Hof's breathing and cold water techniques, as well as urinotherapy which keeps the immune system in top shape! I can recommend it FIRST HAND, it is a "start up" that keeps me on the energy level necessary to have overview of what is going on and to practice "LOVE in action".
Mytilini - Lesbos, last stop from Ikaria to Kavala -main land
pozivam k sodelovanju za kreativno delo trženja “produktov” MED Land projekta - predvsem fotografij, zgodb in keramike / potrebno je veselje in smisel za kreativno komuniciranje z ljudmi, ki želijo tovrstne izdelke, ki so obenem tudi finančni vir za projekt MED Land
•delo je omejeno na honorar in dobri delež zaslužka pri prodaji
•možnost uporabljanja delovnega prostora - studija v centru Ljubljane
Potrebne veščine :
•suverenost na internetu - za objave na osnovni strani, socianih medijih, v "newsletter" in še kje /Patreon...
•posluh in potreba za oblikovanje lastnega kreativnega pristopa, ki je usklajen s projektom in ostalimi, ki smo udeleženi
•pisanje v slovenčini in angleščini
•odnos do vizualnega medija
najprej si oglej MED Land stran ! nakar se seveda slišiva in vidiva - vsaj po skypu :-)) da si izmenjava več. hvala!
In april 2017, Omar – 26-year-old Syrian refugee – founded an organization refugee4refugees on Lesbos and Samos, two of Greek islands with the most immigrants. The organisation, that is, mostly Omar himself, runs programs to improve the lives of refugees on the island, like education, free shop, programs for kids, engaging volunteers from all over the world. He himself is also a volunteer! The organisation is one of the most notable on the two islands. “I can see the Mediterranean full of blood, since people can not escape from the violence at home.” refugee4refugees
"In my experience, the EU played a game, which later became too much for them and they lost control. Nobody was expecting this ... Nobody could ..."
"In fact, just today at 7.30 in the morning, a boat had an accident at Bodrum, and there are still nine people missing. Last week, seven people headed to Lesbos lost their life …”
“'Imagine' was my point of view when taking photos, being someone who just came across from Turkey and wandered around Mitilini, the main port of Lesbos."
“I am a refugee myself, so I have a different story with the EU. When they create a war ... In my experience, they create a war, a war doesn't start by itself ... I am here to save my life. They were trying to fix my leg, I went to school, had friends, led a normal life. One day, they came to my house at 6 a.m. I opened the door and gun was pointed to my head … There were policemen who were supposed to have information about me. In the end, they told me I was working for ISIS. Anyway, they fucked my life, since they took my ... and friends. When I got this paper that said 'We are sorry', I decided to go back to Syria … Our government does the same ..."
The island of Lesbos became famous for the most unbearable refugee camp in the world, as they call it here. Here in Moira Camp, people are waiting for years to, maybe, get asylum rights. Originally set up for 2,000 people, the camp is now home to some 14,000.
Bojan Brecelj: "Before I even entered the official zone of Moira camp, I had an incredible flashback situation. Ladies from Afghanistan around perfect killeen for their traditional bread and the smell that I still have in my memory from when I was traveling through Afghanistan in the 1970s. At that time, before the Russian and Americans destroyed the country, it was the most friendly and gentle place in the world - hospitality was the keyword. Even the police at the border first gave me some good hashish for the welcome, asking for my passport. These people who treated me so nice and taught me sooo much in my life are now in deep trouble, because of us, first of all! And we do not welcome them??? The Afghan ladies did not mind at all that I was photographing them! On the contrary, they gave me two loafs of very tasteful Afghan bread! Hospitality beyond imagination!"
Moira camp - Lesbos island
"It came from my family ... They taught me that if I see somebody who needs help, I will help. When I was living in Germany, I was doing the same, I was volunteering ... Before the war, I was working with my father in construction, I studied and also practiced swimming ..."
"Over 70 percent of NGOs have refugee volunteers, we call them community volunteers. I am from Syria and I know how I to help them! The same goes for people from Afghanistan, Africa ..."
OMAR: "In one of my projects, I run a free shop."
... where people can go and decide to choose what they like ...
... I am trying to show them that you are human and you can choose for yourself.
Refugee4Refugees volunteers working in Omar's free shop
"It is easy to fix the situation, but at the same time, it is difficult, because the governments don't want to fix it. There are many reasons. You have a lot of smart people in the camp, but to get asylum, you need to be crazy, you need to provide a paper stating that you are crazy ... It is a game."
Since the authorities did not allow Omar and his Refugee4refugies organisation to improve the living conditions in the Moira camp, Omar found another solution. He set up a playground with full program next to the camp, so children can easily come and live their playful life.
About the responsibility for the war in Syria:
"All the governments, such as America, Russia, Iran ... Everyone has their hands in Syria right now. If they take their hands and their feet out of there, we would go back to our countries and live in peace again. But they don’t want that, they want to continue, otherwise the war would be here tomorrow … The same day, they would start it in Turkey, and the next day it would be in Europe ... Because everybody is against Turkey. They will never stop the wars … It’s all about the money."
About future changes:
"Yes, something will change, but it is going to change for the worse … Because no one has enough money. Someday, if they have enough money ... You can get money in many way, smuggling people, having them in camp, creating the war, from the petrol … Everywhere …"
"I do not believe my dream will ever come true, but anyway ... To return home and also to see one day, or just for a few hours, that the people who work with us see that we are humans … And even if they believed we are animals, they would take better care for us. No one gives a shit ... I believe people get tired of the situation, of the government … I believe that A FEW PEOPLE CAN HELP EVERYONE IN THE WORLD, because if just a few people start to help others, those others can help another few ... This mean that no one in the world would need help anymore, and we would not have war anymore … If they would just start with explaining the situation in the camp, explain to the people why they are here and how long they will be here, people will wait, but no one explains nothing, because no-one knows.”
“For instance, I come from the north, there are three families ... One million people. We don’t know each other, but in some way, we are really close. If we see something wrong, we have the right to catch this person. We have the right ... that is what they teach us, but in EU it does not work the same. Now, the kind of people you have in Europe. I am sure it is pretty much the same in Afghanistan, Africa ... If you could just teach these people before you welcome them, everything would be different. They can be in control ... What is freedom in Europe? Alcohol, being with women, and freedom of speech. In Ethiopia, freedom of speech is 0,5 out of 10! Whatever you want to do, you need permission, and for me, this means control, no freedom at all. I cannot say I am Muslim, because everyone believes how a Muslim brings terror. At the same time, I do not want to generalize. I say, before you say something about another person, try to meet this person and understand what he wants.”
"In one of my projects, I have a free shop where people can go and choose what they like. I am trying to show them they are human and they can choose for themselves. I believe everything will be fine and that I can do more for them."
"EVERYONE BELIEVES WITH THE POWER THEY HAVE, WHEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY, THE WAR WILL STOP ... here! If someone who has power and information about what will happen to those people tells them the truth about what is going on, what they have and what they provide, those people would start their lives, build a new house, start business, live their life here ... But people don't have any info ... They are waiting all the time in front of the ferry, they just want to live here, you can't imagine this feeling ... My idea was to create a workshop here, provide free accommodation and small salary, and after six months, when I teach them something and they gain some experience, they get their own work and pay back from their salary ... But it is a huge project ... Imagine how many people would start their life."
"I don't want to live in this world anymore, because I do not see any future anywhere in the world ... Always control ... Before you even have an idea, they already know what you want and will never let you do what you want. Now I am trying to be against the control, of course, to respect the law but to do something they do not like. Now I am trying to change the living conditions, like cleaning their houses, the surrounding area, working in their garden. I am my own boss, and I'm not even boss to my volunteers. We have some rules in the NGO - if refugees fail to do the work, we try to do it. Personally, I get strength from refugees, they will never turn against me. For example, I was arrested three times in Samos ..."
"If i need to blame someone, I will blame the government. 99,99% of the problem is the government. If they would just explain to their people why those people came, why we have to support them, why we have to help them, welcome them to our country, everyone would be happy ... People who help, they believe their stories or just try to help them, they don't really know why. If you ask me, it is how we were taught. But people get tired, if you try me for one year it will be finished, I promise I would work 23 hours a day. But you don't know how long it will take. In the winter, you start to prepare for emergency, after the winter, you start preparing for the summer. When the summer ends, you start to prepare for the winter. Every day, you have something to do."
Omar Alshakalis is Director and Co-founder of Refugee4Refugee. He works on the ground on a daily basis and oversees the NGO’s entire operations. As a Syrian refugee himself, he brings invaluable insight when designing and implementing humanitarian aid interventions from a practical perspective, using a beneficiary approach to best serve the refugee communities in both Lesbos and Samos. In emergency situations, Omar’s responsiveness is extremely fast, often taking the role of mediator and always knowing what to do, who to talk to and how to keep everyone safe. Omar is an incredible human and humanitarian. He fights inequality every single day, and his drive to help everyone in need is extremely contagious.
Omar fled his home town of Deir Ez-Zor in 2014 after ISIS took control and he was severely injured during a missile strike. He swam for 14 hours from Turkey to Greece to reach safety and, after witnessing the humanitarian crisis that was taking place in Lesbos, he co-founded Refugee4Refugees in April 2017. Nowadays, the NGO is working in both Lesbos and Samos, growing step by step to increase the impact and quality of its interventions.
Released by MED Land project / photography, editing: BB / cover photo: self-portrait by Omar / audio conversations, BB and Eleonora Pauli, text editing / proof reading: Tadej Turnšek, godfather of the stroy Barbara Ćeferin