Artist Refik Anadol and the Yawanawá People of Brazil Are Debuting an NFT Collection to Protect the Amazon Rainforest

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Earlier this month, the digital artwork project premiered at Scorpios Mykonos as part of a special program surrounding the launch of the new art platform Scorpios Encounters. Co-created by new media artist Refik Anadol and the Yawanawá, an indigenous people of Brazil, is the first iteration of Possible Futures, an initiative derived from the indigenous outreach program Genesis, commissioned by Impact One CEO Mikolaj Sekutowics, and curated by Jeanne de Kroon as part of Therme Art’s Wellbeing Culture Forum.

Premier of Winds of Yawanawá (2023). Courtesy of Impact One.

Following an invitation from Chief Nixiwaka Yawanawá and Putanny, Therme Art and Impact One visited the Yawanawá Sacred Village of Aldeia Sagrada in the Brazillian state of Acre. The experience inspired the initiative—which has since grown to become an expansive platform amplifying indigenous voices—and the development of Possible Futures, comprised of a collection of ongoing initiatives and programs that offer new ways of platforming perspectives and courses of action for future-oriented, environmentally minded ways of living by leveraging new technology.

For the visit to the Yawanawá homeland, Impact One invited Anadol, whose experiences with media arts, public art, as well as data sculpture and painting, provided an unparalleled opportunity for collaboration. The resultant digital artwork reflects the tribe’s culture and the singular importance and influence of the surrounding native rainforest environment. Simultaneously, it highlights the value of new Web3 technologies—like blockchain and NFTs—in preserving and uplifting indigenous modes and models of environmental protection and sustainability. “At the peak of the digital age, this work reconnects to our natural heritage, sourcing its form and language from the Amazon rainforest, while sourcing funds for the Yawanawá and their stewardship of the rainforest, to give back. That makes this collaboration truly nature-positive in its entirety,” said Sekutowicz.

is comprised of a limited, 1,000-piece Genesis NFT collection, with each NFT featuring a unique video and sound compilation born from the central artwork of the series. Elements such as live weather data from the tribe’s location within the Amazon rainforest—including temperature as well as wind speed and direction—are interpreted through artistic means in Anadol’s work, highlighting the mutualism between tribe and environment.

Chief Nixiwaka Yawanawá and Refik Anadol. © Fotinos Bakrisioris for Scorpios.

Chief Nixiwaka Yawanawá said, “This partnership that we are building with Refik is directly for our communities. It strengthens our village, it strengthens our culture, it strengthens our spirituality, it gives us strength to defend, to protect our forest. And shows us that we are not alone. That we have allies around the world. This empowers us. This project can serve as a model and an example for many indigenous peoples and for big companies, big artists, big actors, big celebrities of the world.”

The necessity of a symbiotic approach to living within the natural world is particularly prevalent today, as environmental concerns reach all-time highs and with the rapid development of technology offering potential, mappable solutions. Anadol said of the use of new technologies in the realm of environmentalism and the project at hand, “We need collective wisdom. And if you think about collective wisdom, you will need ancestral wisdom. At some level, it’s more educational and inspiring—hearing the Yawanawá’s voices and how we are evolving and bringing their perspective to the dialogue is the most fundamental part of the project.”

Community members of Yawanawá. © Camilla Coutinho for Impact One.

The proceeds from the , which had its pre-sale sell out, go directly to Instituto Nixiwaka, which represents the Yawanawá communities of Aldeia Sagrada and Nova Esperança, and in turn supports key projects and initiatives geared toward protecting the tribe’s culture and territories—including building sustainable infrastructure, hosting conferences, and developing local school curriculums. And as it exists on the blockchain, the distribution of the proceeds is inherently transparent—a new model of community-focused Web3 smart contracts that have the potential to offer immeasurable aid and support to grassroots projects up to global-scale initiatives.

The marks an exciting early stage of Web3, art, and indigenous collaboration, which bears a hopeful and concrete aim of bettering the future for the earth and the ways in which humans live and move through the natural world.

Winds of Yawanawa

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