Sexual celibacy has been a big talking point during the pandemic, but let's pause for a moment and mourn for a more underrated lost point of physical contact: the humble kiss. With strangers, with friends, with awkward second dates... the simple makeout session had a lot going for it. We miss the kiss. As the poet Faith Hill once said, it's unstoppable. It's centrifugal motion. It's perpetual bliss.

As we wait for everyone to get vaccinated, we can at least still enjoy Los Angeles-based artist Maggie West's ongoing "KISS" series. West, who works with themes of feminism and sexuality, has been capturing the locked lip encounters of strangers and lovers since 2015. But her hot and heavy photos have obviously taken on an extra poignancy during lockdown.

Maccarone Gallery is currently exhibiting some of West's portraits, with their decadent nightclub-y lighting recalling the spontaneity of dancefloor hookups past. Sigh.

Subjects include sex workers, models, artists and musicians from around the world, from LA to Prague to Sydney. You might spot a familiar face or two: actor Alexa Demie (as shown up above), nonbinary film director Coudy Rhodes and adult film star Janice Griffith. Some of the couples know each other, others have just met. All of them look like they're enjoying themselves.

If you're a fan of kissing, 20 of the photos appear in West's artist book, KISS, with a forward by Hannah Stouffer. And hang in there: kissing season will surely someday return.

Photos courtesy of Maggie West

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