ESR 2 Blog November 2021: Piu-Wai Chan

This post would be more of an afterthought, a sort of informal post-script for our last FEINART lecture, with artists Dan Peterman and Christoph Schäfer, which I moderated with Prof Karen van den Berg[1]. Before the lecture, I asked my former manager in Hong Kong, who frequently ran virtual webinars, if he had any advice on hosting online events. ‘Don’t over-prepare.’ — That was his first message, and oh, doesn’t he know me well. Fair enough, he often pulled me aside after our weekly presentation, or our monthly reports, advising how I should invest less time and less effort. (But then he is also notorious for making overly convoluted and complex diagrams at work—it takes one to hire one after all).

While it is rather tempting to just ‘copy ‘n’ paste’ my ‘over-prepared pre-talk notes here and call it a day, it would be more engaging to share a few resources/comments related to the talk, given that we, unfortunately, had a rather tight schedule to fully dive-into the complex geopolitical landscape that the speakers offered. This also reminds me that a person from the States later messaged me, commenting that he was very much impressed by how humble Dan was. It was because it would take ‘enormous amount of effort and commitment to establish something in such an ‘unbelievably rough area.’ This comment struck me that, although we might be able to transfer local knowledge, ‘local sensibility’ could be a whole other story.

Perhaps, we could develop sensibility through addressing ourselves to the long interview, Down Time at the Experimental Station (2004)[2], between Dan and artist, Dan S. Wang. The interview took place eight months after the catastrophic fire, which eventually transformed ‘The Building’ into what is now known as the Experimental Station in Chicago. The interview took place at the temporary site, where Dan and the occupants were waiting for their final permits to start the repair process. It was understandably a period of uncertainty for the occupants, however, Wang sparked a sense of hope, as he expressed how the fire has opened a door for greater communities to self-organise, preserving the integrity of ‘The Building’ from real estate developers and its possible demolishment.

On the other hand, with the exchange between Christoph and audiences in mind, particularly the importance of local scale, the cost of brutal confrontation and the urgency of living parallelly, we may want to look at the work of Eleonora Pasotti, Resisting Redevelopment: Protest in Aspiring Global Cities (2020.) Pasotti studied twenty-nine protest campaigns across five continents and observed that protests that employed ‘experimental tools’ were more likely to succeed in attracting participants and positively transform the site of resistance. In the chapter Squatting, Experiential Tools, and Protest Legacies, Pasotti offered an in-depth analysis of the neighbourhood politics of Hamburg and the multi-facet impact of Park Fiction on both local and global scales. One may come to realize that an enteral resolution is a fallacy. Perhaps, like what Christoph stated in the Q and A, this is exactly why we shall search for answers collectively.

[1] Available at

[2] Available at

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.