by Vatsala SethiDec 31, 2022
The Impact One investment initiative focuses on innovative projects across sectors, in order to drive green-conscious economic solutions. Their Possible Futures portfolio began life at the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) in November 2022, leveraging programming support from the New York Times, and seeks to work closely with indigenous communities within the Amazon region to build a symbiotic future for those groups, and by extension, for all humanity as well.
Recently, Impact One, in collaboration with the Scorpios NFT platform, commissioned the Turkish-American new media artist Refik Anadol to work with the Yawanawá community, who are indigenous to the Brazilian Amazon, in order to co-create the NFT artwork series Winds of Yawanawa, which was unveiled on July 13. Winds of Yawanawa is composed of a central data art sculpture and 1000 NFT digital art pieces, to be minted and dropped on Scorpios.
The pieces in the series combine weather data from the Yawanawá peoples' village with the artistry of a young Yawanawá illustrator group, working in their traditional indigenous art style. The result is a mesmerisingly pigmented body of works that present a bold new vision for the representation of traditional art in the digital age. In an official press statement, Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO of Therme Art and Impact One mentioned, "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."
The representatives of the Yawanawá community included chiefs Biraci Nixiwaka Brasil, Putanny Yawanawá and Isku Kua Biraci Brasil Junior, who are leaders of the villages of Aldeia Sagrada and Nova Esperança. The project began with a visit by Impact One and Therme Art to the sacred village of Aldeia Sagrada in September 2022, wherein the digital artist Anadol and chiefs Nixiwaka and Putanny Yawanawá engaged in a spiritual and artistic exchange. When asked why Anadol was chosen to participate in this project, Sekutowicz told STIR, "Refik Anadol and his wife and business partner Efsun Erkiliç have accompanied the Possible Futures collaboration with the Yawanawá since the very beginning. A longtime friend of Impact One, Refik also shares a vision of nature-positive human evolution, using technology and pushing systemic changes that allow us to reconnect with the planet that nurtures us." Chief Nixiwaka Yawanawá added further insight into this partnership, in Impact One's press note, where he is quoted as saying “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 also 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.”
Winds of Yawanawa is the fruit of this engagement and will see all the proceeds from the sale of its constituent data painting works go to furthering initiatives by Instituto Nixiwaka, that are designed to protect Yawanawá land and heritage. Among other endeavours, these initiatives include the construction of sustainable infrastructure in the Aleida Sagrada village along with the establishment of an educational programme for the Nova Esperança village.
While Winds of Yawanawa surely marks an important point for creative collaboration between the Yawanawá peoples and the larger arts community, it is by no means the end of Impact One's work with the community. As Sekutowicz tells STIR, "Projects like Winds of Yawanawa are required to give back and repair, in order to uphold the most important infrastructure of the planet, but it is only the beginning. Part of a larger system in development with Impact One, Winds of Yawanawa sets off a series of Yawanawá-led initiatives to be realised in the next year." He adds some context to this, explaining that the Possible Futures collaboration with the Yawanawá people at large is meant to develop a model for the intercultural, cross-industry collaborations that he believes are necessary in order to tackle the planetary environmental crisis that is beginning to precipitate in full force. In his words, "Impact One is gearing up to host an impactful programme in Dubai for COP28, with the Yawanawá Chiefs, other indigenous communities’ representatives and a host of key partners. As many look to the climate conferences with increasing skepticism, we aim to move beyond simply raising awareness and provide a holistic perspective and concrete models for creating the necessary preconditions to fund an existence that has survived hundreds of years of colonialism and environmental deprivation." Moving away from the pathbreaking investment initiative, Anadol's contribution here cannot be understated, as he has been instrumental in evolving the representation of indigenous knowledge and art forms within digital media. In Impact One's press note, the new media artist highlights the importance of preserving bodies of age-old knowledge, saying, “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.”