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KIA LABEIJA


“Daughter of the house of Labeija, one of the legendary children, and an Icon in the making”VICE

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KIA LABEIJA


“Daughter of the house of Labeija, one of the legendary children, and an Icon in the making”VICE

+ ABOUT

                   Kia Labeija is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in the heart of New York City’s theatre district, Hellz Kitchen. 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. She uses self portraiture as a medium of story telling, to preserve histories, and make sociopolitical commentaries on current events. She is a featured artist in Art, AIDS, America, along side Keith Haring, Annie Lebowitz, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorp, where she is the only representation of a female artist of color living with and born with HIV.  A performer by nature, Labeija is a member of the Iconic House of Labeija and uses Voguing as a performance practice and community based work. She can regularly be seen walking functions in the underground House/Ballroom scene holding titles from The New York Awards Ball, The Latex Ball, and House Dance International. As a voguer she has performed and curated events in collaboration with PS 1 MoMa, The Brooklyn Museum, AFROPUNK, H&M, Fergie, and Red Bull Music Academy. She speaks frequently in public on the subject of HIV/AIDS and is an advocate for under represented communities living HIV positive including: long term survivors, women, minorities and children born with the virus. As a public speaker she has been invited to speak at The CUNY Graduate Center, New York University, and The New York Public Library. She has been honored in POZ magazine’s POZ 100 list of HIV/AIDS activists under 30, and HIV Plus Magazines 20 most amazing HIV Positive Women, featured in VICE, The New York Times, Paper Magazine and Time Out New York. She has studied at prestiges institutions such as The Juilliard School, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and The New School University.

 

+ PRESS LINKS


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visual Artist


A stand out, up and coming artist Kia Labeija— ARTFORUM

 

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visual Artist


A stand out, up and coming artist Kia Labeija— ARTFORUM

 

Eleven, Kia Labeija 2015, Part of 24 Series

Eleven, Kia Labeija 2015, Part of 24 Series

 + ELEVEN

By Kia Labeija

Blood.

In the womb we share everything with our mothers. This is by definition our first home. We are connected by blood, flowing and pumping oxygen into our small developing bodies, and before we even have a conscious, we have love. When she died, I cried just as hard as the day I met her. I became homeless. Not because I had nowhere to live, but because the body that had once been my first home had stopped breathing. When I arrived at the hospital that night, she laid there so quietly. I grabbed her in an attempt to hold her in my arms, but her body was too heavy, her face was too purple, and she had already left. So I didn't get to say goodbye.

Routine doctors appointments felt void in her absence.

My doctor of over 20 years still recalls the first moment we met. In those days HIV was still considered a death sentence, and my four year old self couldn't have seemed any farther from it.

So every time he takes my blood I think of her, because we share it. Because she has sat here on this same table, and because I am the last piece of her left in this world.

+ 24 SERIES

Excerpt from Kwans Song and the Allure of Immortality

By Sean Black for A&U Magazine

Drawing from loss and the early memories of her mother, as well as the challenges of living with HIV herself, Kia Labeija offers, in her enigmatic self-portraits, glimpses of a contemplative yet transformed identity that resolves the void of her mother and the issues surrounding the disclosure of her own positive status as a young, attractive, and sexually active female. While the issues of her photographs may at first glance seem more easily relatable to other young women of college age pining for the normalcy of womanhood, they speak more directly to those who have walked in her shoes. Embedded with clues about having lost her mother at the age of fourteen to AIDS and growing up as HIV-positive, Kia’s intense presence in her photographs underscore the significance of what may not be readily apparent; her deep and necessary healing process with the promise to never forget. Beyond voyeuristic representations of physicality, desire, personal belongings and time, these portals on paper or digital display are earmarked as sacred space for a daughter to mourn the loss of her mother while making impact in the role of artist educator.

In Search of the Sweet Life | Kia Labeija on Sugar Hill, 2015

In Search of the Sweet Life | Kia Labeija on Sugar Hill, 2015

+ HARLEM POSTCARDS FALL 2015

Artist Statement

In Search of the Sweet Life is a reimagining of the time when migrating from the South to New York meant finding opportunity, when moving uptown symbolized safety and the New Negro was in style. This is the time when Harlem was en vogue, according to Langston Hughes, a time when men and women strutted down the avenues between Amsterdam and Edgecombe in their Sunday best, when the neighbors were Lena Horne, Joe Lewis, Ella Fitzgerald and the Duke, Mr. Ellington, of course. This was the Harlem Renaissance. And this is Sugar Hill today. Since the arrival of brown and black bodies on “American” soil, we have been on an endless quest to understand what our American Dream should look like, a dream in which our brothers and sisters do not swing from the tops of trees and are not gunned down by those who are supposed to keep our neighborhoods safe, in which we are not falsely incarcerated and left to die in solitude, in which our children can grow up, know they have worth, and can never be denied access because of the color of their skin, in which we are not pushed out of neighborhoods once called ghettos. This image is dedicated to my great aunts Pauline, Gladys and Flora.

Your White Walls Can Kiss my Black Ass, Kia Labeija 2015

Your White Walls Can Kiss my Black Ass, Kia Labeija 2015

OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON  ART AIDS AMERICA'S LACK OF BLACK REPRESENTATION

REPLY TO APOLOGY FROM ROCK HUSHKA

What's done is done. An apology will not make a house slave, who has been raped repeatedly by a slave owner, feel forgiveness and compassion. Black and Brown Womyn — both Cisgender and Transgender — are affected immensely by HIV/AIDS, and I am sick and tired of under representation. I am sick and tired, physically, from this virus; passed down to me in the womb of a Womyn who was a survivor of rape and incest, and was sick and tired, until she died of AIDS. Its that same sorry that keeps an abused Womyn in a relationship with a man who continues to beat her, who continues to say he didn’t mean it, until one day, he kills her — and he is sorry about that too. 

Art AIDS America was a decade in the making, that is a third of the AIDS crisis, and still the efforts of Brown and Black Womyn are sitting at the back of the bus; waiting for a chance to sit in the front of an epidemic they never asked to be apart of. My skin is the color of the soil, with roots so deep that no colonialist could ever remove me from this earth, no plague could ever make me crumble from the inside out, and no white man could ever cut me down, and use my limbs to burn fire for his rioters — who call my people savages. 

So do not apologize to me, you apologize to them: 

To all the Brown and Black womyn who have died in vain and lie in unmarked graves.