Fujiko Nakaya: Sculpting Fogs at Tate Modern

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I hadn’t the foggiest of an idea what was happening when the Tate Modern’s South Terrace was immersed in a cloud. From a distance, I panicked, thought the Tate was enveloped in smoke, but realised on approach that it was induced by the gallery itself. There was no one to ask what the fog was in aid of, or who was behind it, but to me it seemed like a really clever marketing ploy. And inevitably, the first thing I did was take some arty snaps of tourists and excitable children being engulfed by the fog, process them through VSCO cam and then post them on Instagram with the hashtag #tatemodern. I imagine those posts drew a whole range of people to come and witness the strange occurrence for themselves.

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Then I followed the hashtag and found the answer to my ignorance: the artist behind the ‘fog sculpture’ was Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya. Strangely I’m not usually one to miss a mainstream art event in London, and perhaps this one had little publicity to contribute to its mystery. Originally planned to only air for 10 days, Nakaya’s fog was due to end on 2nd April 2017, however because of its popularity in the capital the installation has been extended until 18th April.

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As the world’s leading fog artist, Nakaya’s first London fog work is worth a visit. What made it so mesmerising was its interactive quality. The fog immerses all kinds of passersby, from businesswomen wearing suits distracted from their daily commute, giddy children and their equally-excited parents, to Instagram fanatics like myself. Under a clouded roof, a vast array of Londoners had come together. You would think that London would not need any more gloom following the upheaval of the EU referendum last summer, but the fog had produced an atmosphere of hope and welcoming, not fear. Having said that, I can’t strip the feeling that Nakaya’s fog is also spreading a sense of foreboding through the city.

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Work colleagues on a casual lunch break…

 

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…or a romantic date in a cloud?

However, Nakaya denies that there is a political purpose for the fog. It’s especially surprising that it was not created to spread awareness of the impending doom of climate change to instigate activism. In an interview she stated that she was “trying to change the bad image of London fog, or smog, as it was named after the Industrial Revolution…Now I am trying to create the third generation of the London fog, an ‘ecological fog,’ for people to enjoy.”

What I find fascinating is that London Fog is both a sculpture and an interactive installation. It operates by 300 intricately designed nozzles which pump out water vapour in micro-particles of varying density and at varying intervals, according to the air currents and architectural surroundings.

What it feels like: a disorientating dance with a cloud. Not ideal for those with glasses or who have recently had their hair done. Also dampens clothes slightly.

Mango and Asian mushrooms teriyaki soba

Mango and Asian mushrooms teriyaki soba vegan; serves 2

don’t be skeptical of the combination of shiitake, enoki and oyster with ripe, juicy mango 

Ingredients:

  • 300g Asian mushrooms (I’ve used shiitake, enoki, and oyster)
  • 1/2 large fresh mango, chopped into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 bundles of soba noodles (approximately 180g)

Method:

  1. In a frying pan, heat a little vegetable oil on a medium heat and sauté the mushrooms for 2 minutes.
  2. Boil a pan of water and cook the soba noodles.
  3. Whilst the noodles are cooking, combine the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sesame seed oil, garlic and curry powder. Pour onto the sautéing mushrooms, and add the chopped mango. Fry for a further minute.
  4. Serve up piping hot, and with sriracha sauce, if an extra kick is needed.

 

Miso steak

Japanese-style seared steak with sticky sushi rice serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 lean steaks
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt
  • Spinach salad with spring onions, radishes, cucumber and sesame seeds
  • 2 portions of sticky sushi rice
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Method:

  1. Start by marinating the steak. Crush the garlic and mix together the soy sauce, miso paste and sugar. Using a spoon, rub this paste onto the steaks. Put the steaks into a sealable food bag and leave to marinate for at least two hours.
  2. While this is marinating, cook the sushi rice. Coat this in rice wine vinegar and leave to the side.
  3. Make a simple salad consisting of sliced spring onions, radishes and cucumber. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot. Sear the steak for 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on how you prefer the meat cooked). Set aside to cool a little, then carve the steaks into thick slices. Serve with the salad and sushi rice.