Greece needs love

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 11.00.48 am

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 11.00.29 am

One Italian man with a lifelong love of Greece, a passion for the arts, an admirer of beauty and education, with a fierce commitment to action, and the ease to freely quote Pericles.

All of the above elements are what make Luca Lo Sicco not only exceptionally unique but a beacon of hope for Greeks, for artists, for people looking to have their faith restored.

Lo Sicco is the brains behind greeceneedslove, a not for profit organization aimed at helping artists, artisans and researchers from Greece, or with Greece as the main subject of their postgraduate education. Greeceneedslove supports the production of contemporary Greek art while preserving Greek art history as common roots to the world. 

GCT recently chatted with Lo Sicco about his love of Greece, his commitment to seeing artists given a chance to thrive, and his incredible experiences along the way.

How did the connection you feel towards Greece come about?

I have been in love with Greek Art since I was very young. I was born in Sicily, once part of ‘Greater Greece,’ Megali Ellas, Magna Grecia. The Greek presence in Sicily is everywhere, from Segesta to Syracuse. As a little boy, I couldn’t overlook those cultural roots. I took great pride in them. My father used to take us around the island and he told us that before exploring the world we should know exactly what we have at home. And it was during these tours that I felt Greek.

Where were you born and raised? What led you to pursue a career in fashion, business and marketing?

I was born in Palermo, Sicily. Then, I moved to Milan to complete my postgraduate studies and I started to work in the fashion industry straight after. Since then, I have been a nomad living in France, New Zealand, other cities in Italy like Rome, Bologna, and Florence, and now I am in Atlanta, Georgia.

To be 100% honest I feel stateless, ‘apolide’ as we say in Italian, or ‘apolis’ in Greek. In my dreams, I hope to call Greece home, one day.

Originally, I wanted to study fashion design but my family was quite conservative at that time, and I had only two choices, law, becoming a lawyer like my father, or business. I choose the second one, focusing my research in the clothing and textile industry.

How did the idea of Greeceneedslove come about?

Everything started as a reaction to the 2009 financial crisis causing the great depression Greeks are living now. News, governments, and institutions have focused on numbers and cents neglecting to notice and report the suffering of people, the high rate of suicides, and the desperation of many young adults without jobs nor hope. I was living in London at that time, and I saw a headline in an English newspaper saying: Who cares about Greece? The content of the article was absolutely ignorant, selfish, and racist. Brexit confirmed the real nature of the English people towards Europe and showed that they never understood, nor embraced, the spirit of Europe and what being European means. My response was: I do! I care because we are European, we are Greeks at large. I started to visit Greece regularly to listen, to talk, and understand people, their conditions and feelings. The strength to continue our work, despite millions of obstacles, comes from all the people we have been in contact with. We do our job to show Greece we, their European brothers, are helping in some way.

Indeed, one of the main reasons to start greeceneedslove was showing our care, support and affection to Greece, and showing our strong belief in being and feeling European above all.

I started with organizing events (mainly cycling tours around Europe) to raise awareness for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles as a symbol of our unity and common roots. The legal arguments about ownerships were for me irrelevant, as I believe in a united Europe with Athens as the root of our democracy. Therefore, the Marbles should be reunited because they belong to us all, and from a philological point of view they should all be together. We thought that having them all reunited would boost the morale of Greek people with a European celebration day for the event. All European Countries celebratingthe reunion. A kind, generous gesture of brotherhood

Greeceneedslove started in London in 2013 and now we are fully registered in the USA.

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 10.58.31 am

What has been your biggest highlight with Greeceneedslove?

Greeceneedslove has organized several cycling tours: London to Athens, London to Copenhagen, and Munich to Vienna, to build awareness on the issue. We have also organized an exhibition of Photography and Painting at the Museum of Contemporary Art Polo Museale d’Aumale, titled Breaking Myth. Fourteen American and European artists were selected to present their work. The central theme was metamorphosis as both the literal and metaphorical definition for positions in contemporary photographic art. Our second exhibition is at the Museum Palazzo Riso this month. The theme this time will be community, friends and family.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Lack of support. Until now I have financed all these activities but I know we could achieve much more with additional support. For example, we want to create a space that will be a premier International Educational Art Studio dedicated to Greece. To establish a residency program in which Greek artists, exposed to international colleagues, can create, be supported, and promoted in order to reinforce the values that inspired the Greek classic artists in the 5thcentury BC.

Can you share some examples of great results you have seen through the support your organisation gives to young Greek artists?

As all the members of greeceneedslove are university professors, we have organized presentations, lectures, and workshops in Athens, Thessaloniki, and Nafplio. In our exhibitions, we always include young Greek artists.

For someone reading this article who is interested in receiving support from Greeceneedslove and connecting to its community, what is the process? What can they expect?

As I always say, let’s start a conversation. Artists interested in joining us can write to [email protected]  sending their CV, artistic statement and some examples of their work and start to follow us on social media.

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 10.58.40 am

What inspires you?

I lost my youngest brother some years ago, he took his own life. Greece’s economic crisis has taken hundreds of thousands of jobs, incomes slashed, and taxes raised. Depression and suicide rates have risen alarmingly. I want to give love and care and a new life to places and artists, both Greek and international with Greece as the source of inspiration. I want to promote Greek artists outside their national borders. I believe that art education helps and can provide a better future because it gives the ability to resolve problems and overcome obstacles.

What is one piece of advice you give to your members?

Never give up, and read Pericles.

Pericles is very modern and contemporary to me. Values to which build a sense of community; “furnished by us with everything that can enable her to depend on her own resources whether for war or for peace”. He said: "Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others.”

In such current social and political transformations, it is vital that we show a good example, and we raise when our administrations favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. We suggest providing not only business solutions but acts of generosity and “means for the mind” to refresh from stress and depression.

Pericles also talks about having our city open to the world, “and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing, although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality.”His spirit of liberality belongs to me as well. In Pericles, I found answers to why Greece, as common roots, as worthy of admiration. In particular, his notion of generosity as in acquiring our friends by conferring, not by receiving is part of who I am and how I carried out my life. We believe in the confidence of liberality. Using his own words, "Comfort, therefore, not condolence is what I have to offer.”

We are a small organization with limited resources but we will continue until we reach our goals. With little, but steady, steps. I hope to see the tree but even if not, I can go knowing I planted a good seed.

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 10.59.54 am

What is your goal for Greeceneedslove in 2019?

We are in the process of organizing a new exhibition for June 2019 and our energies are at the moment focused on this goal.

What have been your favorite events that Greeceneedslove has organized?

The London to Athens bike tour. The memories and the friendships I established are for life and because when I arrived in Athens, I donated my bike to the Acropolis Museum and I like to think that my bike is there somewhere. Also, I recently published a short story called Leo and David, a tale of two angels, and all proceeds go to support our Greek artists.

Screen Shot 2019 06 02 at 10.58.16 am

Tell us about the cycling marathon you organized to raise awareness for the return of the Parthenon Marbles?

As I mentioned before it has been a life change experience. Discouraged by everyone, I was determined to arrive in Athens to show care to the Greek people. I met so many wonderful people and in particular, I want to mention the Greek minister, Angela Gerekou that welcomed me as a sister would do.

What is your wish for Greece and its people?

To support Greek Art is important, especially now! With separatist sentiments around in some regions, we have to look back what Art was for Ancient Greece. They thought of art as a way of creating order out of chaos. With Greek government funding for the arts now nearly non-existent, we are stepping into a crucial role as patrons for creativity. In times like these, we, humanity as a whole, have an obligation to provide assistance and to collaborate with each other. In recent years Greece and its artists have shown to the world that through creativity we can not only survive but resolve problems and overcome obstacles. And we are here to support, develop and promote them because in doing so we support brotherhood.

GREECENEEDSLOVEgoal is to identify and nurture Greek artists and to assist them in their educational and professional development. GREECENEEDSLOVEaspires to create a community of artists that provides a lifetime of encouragement, opportunity and support to the contemporary production of Greek Art.

Gina Mamouzelos

Gina Mamouzelos is a second generation Greek Australian who grew up immersed in her Greek heritage, including the language, traditions, culture and listening to her grandparent’ mesmerising tales about life in Greece. Passionate about ensuring the Greek language is not forgotten among the younger generations, in 2002 she became a panel member on the SBS Greek radio show ‘Let’s Talk Openly.' She graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Sydney and has put her lifelong passion for writing to use working in social media, public relations and advertising. Gina now joins GCT's team as a writer.