Fujiko Nakaya’s contribution to Chaumont-sur-Loire is a fog sculpture poetically placed near a silver birch grove.
Showing the inside of a cloud and reproducing the sensation of the droplets making it up on the skin are the aim of this inspired creator of imaginary fogs. “I create a stage for nature to express itself freely,” she explains. “I am a fog sculptor, but I do not try to shape it. The atmosphere is the mould and the wind is the chisel.”
For all that the artist’s installations are poetic, they only come about after many hours of engineering and a subtle collaboration with water, air and even time. Nakaya models the elements, playing with shadow and light in the way that a videographer might.
She makes use of high-pressure drinking water sprays that release tiny little droplets in fine volatile mists. She then calculates the appearance and cut-off of water, adjusts the direction of the nozzles and uses fans to accelerate the movement or lighting to warm the atmosphere and generate vertical currents of mist.
Onlookers whom she seeks to involve physically and sensorially also have a role to play. As “kilos of joules”, they alter the evaporation process.
A trailblazer in technological art, Fujiko Nakaya expresses her fascination for the natural phenomena that are constantly forming and deforming through her ephemeral creations, and endeavours to rekindle dialogue between the public and nature.
Born in 1933 in Sapporo, Fujiko Nakaya is a Japanese artist renowned for her fog sculptures. A graduate of artistic studies from the Northwestern University of Evanston in the United States, Nakaya has lived in France, the United States and Spain, and clouds were something she started out painting before moving on to creating them. She made the world’s first ever “fog sculpture” at the Osaka Universal Exhibition in 1970 by cloaking the Pepsi Pavilion in an immense fog veil. In the 1980s and ‘90s she became a world-famous artist-film-maker and advocate of alternative arts but continued to create ambitious fog sculptures and installations in Japan, Australia, the United States and Europe. Temporary or permanent, her works include installations using the space around us as well as participations in artistic performances. In particular, she has worked with the US choreographer Trisha Brown and film-maker Bill Viola.