Chris Levine X EJAF
The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) hosted its annual Academy Awards Viewing Party last night, the Oscar nights biggest fundraising event in Hollywood. In its 27th year, the event consists of a gala dinner, awards viewing, dancing, and perhaps most anticipated a live charity auction. Celebrated light artist Chris Levine has become a regular benefactor of this wonderful charity, and this year he donated his most famed piece ‘Lightness of Being’, which fetched an incredible $360,000 in support of the foundation’s fantastic and vital work.
EJAF announced this morning that last night, ‘thanks to our guests, our sponsors, everyone who participated in our auction and all of you who donated online, we raised more than $6.3 million to help our grantees end HIV/AIDS by 2030’. Over the past 25 years, this annual event has raised more than $68.2 million, contributing significantly to the amazing $400 million that the foundation has managed to raise over the past quarter-century. EJAF works tirelessly to challenge discrimination against people affected by the epidemic, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS altogether.
Levine has become a long-term supported of EJAF. For him, their ‘breakthrough work…is something close to my heart after some dear personal losses and it’s an honour and a privilege to be able to support it.’ He believes that the ‘global mindset is evolving as the work of the Foundation radiates its loving message. Anything I can do as an artist to help, now and into the future, is my compassionate duty.’ In return, the Foundation has passionately proclaimed their gratitude towards Levine, ‘for supporting our lifesaving mission so generously through donating works of art to our live auctions’. This is part of a wonderful tradition in the artistic community, in supporting people suffering from AIDS. As EJAF said ‘artists have played a vital role in the international response to this health crisis by calling public attention to the epidemic through their work and supporting AIDS organisations through donations like Chris’.
Levine’s donation, ‘Lightness of Being’ has become one of the most iconic photographs of our time. Extraordinarily, it was a fortuitous accident that brought about its creation. Working in the yellow drawing room at Buckingham Palace, Levine was using a complex technological array to create a holographic portrait. The Queen was required to sit still for 8 second intervals, under bright lights, and so between each pass of the moving camera, she rested her eyes. Struck by the beauty of her meditative posture, Levine captured her in an entirely new light. At the time, he was profoundly influenced by meditation, frequently taking part in 10-day silent retreats. He puts it beautifully: ‘stillness is a portal to the divine, and by taking my subjects towards stillness, it allows for a more soulful connection with the subject, and that light radiates in the work.’ And so, through auspicious accidents and blessed collaboration, this stunning portrait has not only redefined royal photography, but it has also done a great deal to help the effort to end AIDS.