Seal the Windows Before the Rain

My art project '未雨绸缪 Seal the Windows Before the Rain' was exhibited at Art + Shanghai Gallery in 2011 in the group show Utopia Nowhere, curated by Diana Freundl. The project was the result of a year long research into the Chinese phenomenon of the relocation of farmers and urban dwellers to make space to new urbanisation projects. The project included an insightful reserach into the mechanisms of monetary compensation following an eviction, and examples of how farmers seek to increase the compensation by bending the often blurry rules... I developed the project specifically for the gallery, turning my research into an ironic and socially-charged proposal about how the gallery owner could maximise the compensation in case the old building will be demolished to make space for a new development. It draws upon many cases of urban resistance and ingenuity in China.

Shanghai, as many other cities in China and Asia, is undergoing radical transformation and experiencing rapid urbanisation. In Shanghai old and low-density areas of the city have been transformed into new high-density developments, providing housing, services and infrastructure to accommodate the growing population.

The area in Jing’an District, in which Art+ Shanghai Gallery is located, is also undergoing deep transformation, with new high-rise and high-quality developments being built just across the gallery. The site of the Gallery is strategically located along main traffic routes, but is not developed to its full economic potential, therefore it is extremely probable that in the near future it will be acquired and developed into a new luxury mixed-use site, maximising its land value.

Because of the continuously increasing prices in the real estate market, the Gallery will most certainly struggle to buy a property of similar size in such a central location with the compensation received. It is therefore essential to implement as soon as possible strategies to maximise the monetary compensation, ahead of the likely acquisition by a developer. These strategies include expanding the Gallery with extra floors and adding new business opportunities, such as commercial space, urban farming, residential and other uses. The different strategies presented in the exhibition, some of which are based on those currently used by many suburb communities in China, describe expansion schemes considered.

The chosen 8 strategies to maximise the Gallery compensation were: 1. Make Improvements, 2. Increase the building area, 3. Diversify your strategy, 4. Start the works early, 5. Register to the Hukou, 6. Protract the negotiations, 7. Make it personal, 8. Don’t set yourself on fire.

What the press said about it: "[...] On the first floor, Francesca Galeazzi planned some amazing feats with her work “Seal the Windows Before the Rain.” The conceptual piece looked at the hypothetical situation of what might happen if the land which houses the gallery was requisitioned by the government (there has been a rumor about this floating around for a while). Galleazzi puts forth several proposals for how the gallery could maximize its benefits . . . i.e. moving in a number of people to up the headcount of the “home,” adding on extra floors, holding out till the last minute and ignoring the government-placed banners that say “Leave first and get more money.” Galeazzi then outlines a number of renovation plans, one for a tiered urban farm, another for a bleak tenement, and yet another for a Jinmao Tower-like building where the residents are trapped behind the glass like insects within a jar. All these are, of course, inspired by the astonishing and tragic examples of pre-demolishment construction from around China. By throwing in such curveballs into the discourse of frenetic urbanization, the work provokes much reflection on sustainability in the environment and in architecture. [...]" .
For the full review of the show Utopia Nowhere visit: