Look inside of busy beggining of our cruise...through the eyes of new member of the crew - slovak film-maker/graphic designer Matej Michalec. He will tell you what MEDland project means for him and what brought him to the Mediterranean sea.
Despite great challenges, our expedition is going on. Waves are bringing us to the island Korčula and Mljet.
Get your copy of the NEW photo book on Venice, featuring photographs taken in 2020, which will be officially released on May 7th. You can secure your copy if you are an active Patron of the MED Land project or shop on theMED Land page!
Venice is the tip of the Mediterranean and the starting place of the MED Land project. I lived in Venice on Nalu (the project boat) for a year, and the outcome was different exhibitions and the book ”Water Dragon of Venice”. Seven year later, I felt the urge, a call to come back and witness Venice again. THE RESULT IS ALREADY PUBLISHED IN a photo book with English text by Marko Pogačnik. This time, it was a a simultaneous call of two, Marko Pogačnik and me. No wonder, really, since we already collaborated on 5 book projects about Venice. During 2020, Marko has been visiting Venice mostly telepathically, and wrote and drew a completely new vision of Venice, titled VENEDIG – EMBRYO DES NEUEN ERDENRAUMS (VENICE –EMBRYO OF THE NEW EARTH SPACE). The second book, which is complementary to this one, features a selection of 92 full-page images which were also created in 2020. This 2-in-1 bundle is published in German by Neue Erde.
The English version is a photo book with short introductory text by Marko. It is a limited edition of 99 copies and a very high-quality print.
English Version - ONE book > 92 photos/144 pages 27x20,5 cm, hard cover: VENICE-EMBRYO OF THE NEW EARTH SPACE
NOW is the right time to get involved in the very important 2021 chapter of the project.
Dimitris Lesses 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