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Artist Statement

There is an essay I find myself revisiting whenever I reflect on my role as an artist, a piece called “Filipinas ‘Living in a Time of War’” by Neferti Tadiar. I can sit on these sentences for what feels like hours: “The task of feminist writers and artists and critics is therefore to reinvent experiential strategies for recreating the realities we inherit and take as ‘givens.’ We can reinvent if we recognize the dimensions of our experiential practices that are not already subsumed by capitalist structures... If we look at art less in terms of representation than as practices of mediation, we can recognize the ways in which specific works might begin to alter our habitual forms of regard and release other possibilities.”

Tadiar generates a series of questions essential to any artist, Filipina or not. Which of our experiential practices subvert commodification and co-optation by existing structures? How can we name the “realities we inherit and take as 'givens,’” demystify and destabilize them by (re)staging these unlocatable practices? How can we strategize, agitate, and recreate, transform current practices of thinking, of looking, that shape and populate creative environments? How can we unsettle, reverse the gaze and look back at the theater industry itself? 


Amidst an industry keen on representation and its merits, merely existing becomes taxing when the identities you claim have been historically captured, caricatured, commodified. Still, I remain steadfast in my responsibility as an artist of the working class to “make revolution irresistible,” in the words of Toni Cade Bambara. My art unravels the ideologies which have enabled popular representations of historically oppressed bodies on U.S. stages and demands that we as a theater community imagine more for ourselves and our world. In its fluidity and form, my art aims to transform the theatrical landscape, “alter our habitual forms of regard and release other possibilities.” 


I remain hopeful about the affective work of performance, and I insist on believing in theater. My art is my stubborn, persistent hope in action: it is community building, institution dismantling, fire and fight. It is the stage, it is the rehearsal room, the classroom, the coffee shop; it is solidarity at all levels of the creative process. My art is humanizing work, burning with love.

- Lianah Sta. Ana, 2023

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