Yawanawá indigenous people raise US$ 3 million with NFTs that mix traditional paintings with real-time meteorological data from the Amazon

Digital art is one of the biggest operations involving NFTs that has been reported this year

25 Sep 2023
5 min read

The Yawanawá indigenous community in western Acre has raised at least US$ 3 million by selling digital art expressed through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) exhibited at the Annabel's club in London. It's one of the biggest operations involving NFTs that has been reported this year.

Called "Winds of the Amazon", the exhibition was made in partnership with Brazilian new media artist Refik Anadol and will be on show until 25 September at the London club. The presentation coincides with the annual "Annabel's for the Amazon" campaign, which supports reforestation projects by The Caring Family Foundation (TCFF), which works in partnership with the NGO SOS Amazônia, in the Brazilian rainforest.

The Yawanawá want to raise money with the NFTs to enable long-term initiatives to protect their land and the community's cultural heritage, which also extends into the Amazon regions of Bolivia and Peru.

The artwork reproduces real-time meteorological data from the Yawanawá community of Aldeia Sagrada (AC). In a play of traditional shapes and colours, the series is intended to be a living and constantly evolving representation of the Yawanawá identity in the Amazon territory.

"It's the most meaningful and purposeful project of the year," said artist Refik Anadol.

The series consists of three pieces of "dice sculptures", each lasting eight minutes. The piece is accompanied by a collection of 1,000 paintings by artists from the community expressed in NFTs. The meteorological data, which determines the movement of the digital art, includes elements such as wind speed, windshear, direction and local temperatures.

The work was launched as part of the Genesis collection of the newly created "Yawanawá & Refik Anadol" registry, minted using a smart contract programmed to highlight the collaboration of the indigenous community and its surroundings by providing transparent data on the distribution of profits from NFT sales. The money raised is being transferred to the Yawanawá community using blockchain technology.

The NFTs on display in London are part of the private collection of Richard and Patricia Caring, founders of TCFF. The exhibition is curated by Impact One, organiser of Possible Futures, a programme that explores ways of collaborating with indigenous communities.

TCFF's work in Acre includes empowering women to generate income for the indigenous community by encouraging supply chains with local products, planting trees and other environmental preservation initiatives.

The foundation has already successfully planted 1.75 million trees and seedlings and is on course to reach 2 million units by March 2024. This commitment makes TCFF the UK's leading donor to reforestation in Brazil.

"The life and spirit that the Yawanawá show and inspire so clearly, keeping the Amazon as natural as possible, is a beautiful thing to witness," said TCFF founder Richard Caring.

25 Sep 2023

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