Wind Caravan Mongolia - In the Midst of the Steppes

I have never seen such a big sky. I have never stood on such seemingly endless Steppes. Weather, temperature and wind direction change dramatically on this highland of 1500 meters' altitude, where they say the four seasons may be experienced in any one given day. Squalls refresh the land, huge rainbows arch the sky, magnificent clouds keep changing endlessly and innumerable stars seem to fall on me at night.... Indeed I can realize how small I am, surrounded by the enormity of nature, the entire cosmos.
I chose a spot about 40 km to the south of Ulan Bator, in the undulating green in the middle of the vast, waving Steppes. I first encountered this landscape after driving around many days on my first visit to Mongolia two years ago. There is nothing man-made all around except for the faraway ger tents of nomads. Twenty-one orange-sailed sculptures dance in the wind. The windmill house, functioning as a small wind generator, is a popular meeting place for the nomads. Many horses are hitched outside of the doorway; inside the windmill house, 'airag' - a drink made from horse milk - is served just as if this were a Mongolian 'ger.' People watch intently the videos showing the other Wind Caravan sites; the electricity for viewing these is produced by the wind.
The opening ceremony was held on July 15, 2001 in the presence of Mr. Tsanjid, Minister of Science, Technology, Education and Culture of Mongolia, Mr. Hanada, Japanese Ambassador, and the president of Konoike Construction Co., Ltd. Seventy friends came from Japan and many nomads and children on horseback showed up, until finally there were about 1,000 people. The atmosphere felt charged. Greetings and speeches were delivered. One of the children declared how precious nature is with the following expression: "We have one sun and only one earth for all of us." Then all the kites, on which the children had drawn the day before, were released into the air, and the Naadam festival began. The festival consisted of horse race, wrestling and archery; the participants were 56 children aged 6 to 8 on two year old horses, 32 teenagers, and 8 boys and girls, respectively. There were traditional performances of Morin Huur and Khoormii as well as dancing, singing and music by children during the competitions.
Once the opening ceremony ended, Wind Caravan started its regular exhibit. I gave a talk to the children of the International Summer Camp and visited some of the nearby gers to talk with people. Many nomads and children came on horseback to visit the site. Many artists came to visit me from Ulan Bator, very enthusiastic and eager to talk with me, asking my advice about their activities. As it has been ten years since the political change in their society, these people are energetic, curious and seem to have infinite possibilities. I was appointed to be an honorary member of three associations of Mongolian artists, because I proved in a completely new way how Mongolian wind can be a part of art.
When I visited one of the nearby gers, I heard an interesting rumor. Since it is rare that wind keeps blowing in this season, people believe that the Wind Caravan sculptures are devices for bringing on the wind. One nomad asked me, "Please bring the devices to call rain the next time you come." Although I gave him an ambiguous reply, I was really surprised when a heavy shower followed the thunder that very afternoon. Mongolians smile and become happy when it rains.
Today is the last day of Wind Caravan Mongolia. Our journey - Observation of Our Planet - will come to its conclusion in Brazil, the next and last site.
July 29, 2001
Susumu Shingu