Wind Caravan Inari Finland - Warm Memories from the White World

The container filled with sculptures was loaded on the truck and left for Morocco, the following site of Wind Caravan. The temperature is minus 24°C at noon here in Ukonjärvi on March 1st, 2001. I am standing on the frozen lake of Inari in the north end of Finland. This has been the site of Wind Caravan until four days ago and is now back to the white world as it was before. It is as if it were an illusion that 21 sculptures with blue sales were dancing in the wind here on the lake.
About 200 people gathered for the opening ceremony on February 10th when the weather was as mild as 0°C in spite of the severe coldness earlier in the week. It was like a gorgeous festival with the colorful costumes of the Sami, vivid children full of curiosity, and many friends who came all the way from Japan, Italy and Helsinki. The ceremony started with the parade of children, some on skis and others on reindeer sledges, all with colorful balloons whose shapes were transformed with vinyl tape. The Sami singer, Wimme Saari, whom I admire very much, sang three pieces without accompaniment. After my short speech, warm reindeer soup was served to all the visitors. Although we had thought that such an open-air event should be extremely short, people chatted long, laughed a lot and enjoyed their stay at the site for quite a while.
The closest village from the site is Inari, 18 km to the northwest, with a population of about 700. Inari is a kind of capital for the Sami people in Finland. The Sami Museum SIIDA, with wonderful exhibits about Sami culture, is located in Inari. SIIDA fully supported Wind Caravan Inari Finland and offered space for our exhibition, reception and symposium. The Sami are originally nomads who used to roam with their reindeer freely across the borders of Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Now they have all settled down in their own countries.
The symposium, "Wind - Gift of Our Planet," was held in SIIDA Museum on the day following the opening ceremony. The panelists were Izumi Ushiyama, specialist in the use of natural energy, Ilmari Laiti, master of Sami handicraft, Juha Pentikäinen, scholar of shamanism and mythology, and myself. The discussion revolving around the theme of "wind" by us four, each coming from a different background, was multi-faceted yet harmonious.
The pupils of Inari Primary School, who paraded in the opening ceremony, made weather vanes and wooden candles for Berbère children of Morocco, the next Wind Caravan site. Our stay in Inari extended beyond one month starting with preparation, installation, two-week period of exhibition and dismantling. We became really good friends with many Inari residents. How can those people be so cheerful, joking and laughing all the time, living in such a severe natural environment? It is mysterious to me.
We encountered the beautiful aurora borealis at least four times during our stay. I felt as if my soul was absorbed by the endless changes of cold green flames that burn the dark sky with stars. Luckily we successfully recorded the northern lights in photographs and on video. It is surely because of the Sami and my many friends why Wind Caravan Inari Finland fills me with warm memories even in minus 40°C that I experienced at the coldest.
March 1, 2001
Susumu Shingu