Kia LaBeija, Goodnight, Kia, 2017
Commissioned by Visual AIDS for Day With(out) Art 2017, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett
Over the duration of the ongoing AIDS epidemic, an estimated 17 million children have lost one or both parents to an AIDS-related illness. Many of these children living with the virus themselves have ended up displaced or forced out of their homes. In Goodnight, Kia, Kia LaBeija processes a reoccurring dream of the home she shared with her mother Kwan Bennett. Bennett died of an AIDS-related illness in October of 2004, resulting in an unanticipated move that reshaped the course of her teenage daughter's life.
Kia LaBeija is a contemporary artist who provokes awareness, acceptance and activism for HIV/AIDS through her portraiture and performance art. Her work explores the intersections of community, politics, fine art and activism. As a visual artist she stages digital portraits as theatrical and cinematic re-imaginings of non fictional events to spark conversation, complicating the way we view her subjects and the spaces they occupy. LaBeija’s portraiture utilizes the medium of story telling, to preserve histories and make sociopolitical commentaries on current events. LaBeija was a featured artist in Art, AIDS, America, alongside Keith Haring, Annie Leibovitz, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe and more; she was the only woman of color; the only woman living with HIV; and the only artist born with HIV included in the exhibition. A performer by nature, LaBeija is a member of the Iconic House of LaBeija and uses Voguing as performance practice and community based work. LaBeija lives and works in New York City, NY.
December 1, 2017 marked the 28th anniversary of Day With(out) Art, a day of mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis. A presentation of short film and video works held concurrently at over one hundred art institutions and universities, Day With(out) Art is organized annually by Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS awareness and creating dialogue around HIV issues today. This year's program, ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, prioritizes Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic and features seven new and innovative short videos from artists Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye & Ellen Spiro, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia LaBeija, Tiona Nekkia McClodden and Brontez Purnell, curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett for Visual AIDS. In 2017 ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS screened at 116 venues worldwide, premiering at the Whitney Museum of American Art on December 1, with additional marquee screenings at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.