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Portuguese Sea by 24+ Artists (B-Side)
Reading time: about 8 minutes
About this series
Portuguese Sea is a poem written by Fernando Pessoa in 1922, a famous Portuguese poet who is known for his philosophical and complex works. The poem is one of the most famous pieces of poetry in Portuguese literature and is a part of his collection of poems, The Keeper of Sheep.
And now, 100 years later, 24+ artists from around the world have come together to interpret this masterpiece each in their own unique mediums. The project is led and curated by B-Side, a community of NFT photographers, collectors and friends, founded by Bernardo Caria, a photo collector and photography enthusiast. Proceedings of the NFT sales are going to be used to release a photo book and to display the works in an exhibition.
O salty sea, so much of whose salt Is Portugal’s tears! All the mothers Who had to weep for us to cross you! All the sons who prayed in vain! All the brides-to-be who never Married for you to be ours, O sea! Was it worth doing? Everything’s worth doing If the soul of the doer isn’t small. Whoever would go beyond the Cape Must go beyond sorrow. God placed danger and the abyss in the sea, But he also made it heaven’s mirror.
Listen to the audio recording in Portuguese, spoken by artist Hugo Faz:
The poem is written in the voice of Alberto Caeiro, one of Pessoa's heteronyms or poetic personas. Caeiro's poetry is characterized by a deep appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.
In Portuguese Sea the poet describes the sea as a powerful force that is both beautiful and terrifying. The poem begins with an image of the sea as a ‘giant serpent’ that is ‘restless and ever-changing.’ Pessoa marvels at the sea's vastness and its ability to both ‘whisper’ and ‘roar.’
Caeiro, Fernando Pessoa goes on to describe the sea's relationship with the land, noting how the sea ‘gently caresses’ the shore but also ‘ruthlessly devours’ it– the sea is ultimately unknowable and mysterious, with depths that no one can fully fathom.
The poem is a meditation on the beauty and power of nature and the human desire to understand and connect with it. The poem is a celebration of the natural world and a reminder of the limits of human knowledge and understanding.
Interview with Bernardo Caria
To start, can you talk a bit about your background as collector and what brought you into the world of NFTs?
I started on the NFTs in the beginning of them, but didn’t understand what it was, just saw it as another pump and dump or Ponzi scheme and wanted to take advantage of it to speculate. The reality is that I made some ETH flipping things but not as much as I thought. Nevertheless at the time I started to see the art that was done in NFTs and photography was the next big thing as everyone was saying. I entered for the speculation but stayed for the art and community. The fact I was an amateur photographer when young and work with cameras everyday made my entrance in the space easier and fell in love.
What inspired you to base the collection on the poem Portuguese Sea? What does it mean to you personally?
The idea of doing this collection came from the idea that a NFT community is made by people from all over the world, where their main language is not even the English. Started to think so many people so disperse, how would they interpret a poem that is so close to home? How would different people relate to it, not having the same background as I and other Portuguese had? It was an experiment and it wasn’t supposed to be more than just a cool idea among friends. Then it became a little more than that. I chose that poem because it is a poem that I think every Portuguese person will know and it’s the essence of our nostalgia. The discoveries by sea are part of our history and most of us are proud of that, but it came with costs. Those words are the reflection of that duality. The other reason I chose the poem its because it was translated in English already. I was never going to try to translate poetry and although I would probably find poems that would resonate more with me, to transmit the message to others I had to choose one it was easy and well translated.
The collection will be available as NFTs on Foundation as curated world and all fundings go into a photo book. Can you provide some background or context about the idea to release the NFTs as book? Where and when will it be available? And who will be the partner for releasing the book?
The idea of this collection was to have a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning is this collection that is going to be released with the help of Obscura. In the next step I loved the idea to do a photo book. I appreciate photo books and there are a few people very interested in that in our community, so I decided to try to achieve it and bring the web3 back to physical. A lot of things go the other way around and I want to try to make something I could look and touch and be proud of. This was discussed at the start as the main goal. At the moment things are slower than I was expecting and we don’t have any idea yet how we are going to do that, but it is still the main objective. The end, as I was explaining before, its going to try to exhibit the collection in Portugal at the same time as NFC Lisbon and get everyone together from this amazing community.
What do you hope collectors will gain from collecting interpretations of Portuguese Sea as NFTs and book, and what role do you see poetry playing in the human experience of the natural world?
I think not only collectors will have access to a very beautiful collection, with a lot of big names from the space, they will be exposed to other people they never heard about. It will be a way to show work from people that are rarely on their echo chambers. It is an experiment of a community collection, curated by the community and with the efforts of everyone. B_side will be probably something that will stay for a long time and this is our genesis collection which I think will accrue value over time. The book is going to be another experience and I hope people will value it as a first of a kind, from web3 to web1. Not only it has the potential to be a wonderful book it will be something people will cherish as one of the first works arising from NFT space.
What was the process to setup this collection and community process? How long did it take and which challenges did you have to overcome to get more than 24 photographers and artists together in one collection?
From the beginning I tried to contact people that I was close to and pitch the idea. The idea was always not driven by money as no one is getting paid for this. This was a project purely for the experiment and experience and to try to do something epic. I think the main difficulty was to demand things from people without paying for their time and experience. Everyone was here by choice and its ambitious to coordinate a project done on everyones spare time. Nevertheless we already accomplished something. The curation was done by a panel chose by me from the inside of the community, made by 4 people I have a great respect for and see them as amazing and experienced curators. The experiment is just in the beginning and probably more challenges and issues will arise, but we will be here together to try to solve them
Photos copyright Hugo Faz, Alejandro Cartagena, Luigi Stranieri, Anna Condo, Peter Nitsch, Scott Strazzante, dubhz0, Shawn Moreton, Amit Sharma, Isa Rus, Trevor Traynor, Anastasia Kóvtun, Maria Fynsk Norup, Wim Van Cappellen, Victor Ezteves, Antonio Barros, Bruno Mello, Carlos Loret de Mola, Ksenia, Hrant Khachatryan, Mariam Amurvelashvili, Taimazz, Richard Pilnick, Matt Humphrey, Katerina Sokova, Erik Bulckens, Bernardo Caria
DRAWLIGHTS | 1/1 – one post/one photographer, weekly. Off-chain and on-chain. By Peter Nitsch, lens-based artist, a member of NFT Now 🌐, Jenny Metaverse and lifetime Member of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand.