Lian Ladia is part of the Public Participation Fellows Cohort 2019-20. If a Tree Falls responds to the question, “How do we uplift and mobilize our public participation?”

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Lian Ladia
If a Tree Falls, 2020


When barefoot – amongst ticking clocks, water drops –when by yourself, and left on your own, with your own thoughts – can you contemplate not only our distance from each other, but your distance from yourself?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to witness, will it make a sound? Is it the sound of the mighty woosh of its fall, or is it the low woodwind breeze of growing grass when time has settled?

When we are reduced to bare life (1), our senses become more precise, as well as our ability to survive. The online exhibition program, “If a Tree Falls,” is conceptualized to deal with our existential insecurity, so that we can fill this void with much needed reflections after a recent moment of loss. This online exhibition explores an artist’s ability to introspect in a moment of crisis through listening, reading and feeling.

(1) Giorgio Agamben talks about a conception of politics of the state where “bare life” must be transformed to the “good life.”

Illustration by England Hidalgo, 2020.

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Bindlestiff Studio, a community theater in the SOMA district, endeavors to produce its first podcast, in place of theater activity, due to shelter-in-place and renovation. Titled, “FOBcast,” the production features Filipino American immigrant stories in the Bay Area. The first episode focuses on the immigrant community of SOMA sharing intergenerational creative reflections on COVID 19.

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Erina Alejo collaborates with project space yucca and creates a map of culturally-significant plants for Latinx and Filipinx families in the SOMA, Mission and Excelsior. Since shelter-in-place, Alejo asks, “What plants have accompanied us in our gardens and communities which provide grounding and a homelike atmosphere in the domestic spaces of Black, brown and immigrant families?” The project titled, “Plants Have Feelings,” provides a glimpse of how plants have co-habited with humans, unappreciated or unnoticed, yet perform a medicinal, healing or sentient presence within our urban lives in San Francisco.

All three programs fall under the purview of the multiplatform exhibition project, “If a Tree Falls,” curated by 2019-2020 YBCA fellow Lian Ladia. It aims to equip the viewer with tools to listen, reflect and explore in order to self-actualize in this pandemic moment.

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Artist and sculptor Weston Teruya writes an article, “Where Shall We Go From Here,” as a reflective response to issues he has been grappling with as a sculptor, pondering environmental disruption in the past and present. Through writing, Teruya shares how the power struggle of his equity manifests in built environments in his hometown of Hawaii.