The view of the Château de Chambord from the near distance is spectacular, but the sight of Susumu Shingu’s white kinetic sculptures moving silently in the breeze like abstract swans swimming on the moat turns it into pure magic. Beyond the moat and just in front of the château, a flock of the artist’s bright-yellow “wind machines” adds to the effect.
Shingu (b. 1937) has traveled around the world 10 times, planting his sculptures on sites as diverse as a frozen lake in the Arctic Circle in Finland and an uninhabited island sacred to the Maori in New Zealand. Each time, he creates new works especially for the site and employs local people to install them.
Now his “Wind Caravan” has arrived in Chambord to help the château continue the celebration of its 500th anniversary and the death of Leonardo da Vinci, who was involved in the planning of its construction. Like Leonardo, Shingu is fascinated with fluid dynamics and perpetual movement, and spends his time filling notebooks with ideas and drawings, some of which are on show in the exhibition, along with small-scale models of some of his pieces
The new show, “Susumu Shingu: A Utopia for Today,” follows the exhibition “Chambord, 1519-2019: Building Utopia” and continues the château’s investigation of the idea of utopia, this time presenting a different concept of an ideal world.
Inside the château, the exhibition continues in upstairs rooms. Don’t miss the film showing the outdoor Wind Museum Shingu has built in Sanda, Japan, in a park filled with his sculptures of many colors, moving gently in the breeze. Another film follows him around the world as he plants new wind machines in different locations. Even on film, the mesmerizing movement of Shingu’s sculptures produces a calming effect, as if they were engendering silence.
One room is taken up by a model for an upcoming project, “Atelier Earth,” a “utopian” village whose construction is underway in Sanda. Incorporating a museum, artist’s studio, theater, café and shop, it will be graced, of course, by Shingu’s sculptures.
These complex structures, mounted on steel or aluminum frames, are made of various fabrics or Japanese paper, usually in white or bright primary colors, and sometimes with carbon fiber. The movements of the sails are made possible by systems of weights and counterweights.
Shingu’s wind machines are a great excuse to (re)visit this extraordinary château, if one were needed. May a strong wind blow for you.
Note: Visitors who want to get up close and personal with Shingu’s fanciful creations can rent a paddleboat and drift alongside them on the moat.