For those who practice ethical non-monogamy, the term "compersion" refers to the happiness they feel whenever their partner is intimate with someone else. It's meant to be a positive emotion, a genuine joy that arises from knowing a loved one in a good place. However, in the age of sex and celebrity, artist Maya Fuhr believes it can also be experienced by embracing our inner voyeurs and the power of vicarious gratification, which she attempts to explore in an upcoming exhibition aptly titled "Compersion."
Beginning this Valentine's Day, Fuhr will take over LA's SADE Gallery with a series of interactive pieces that intertwine fetish with the idea of compersion by transforming her photos of queer and sex positive artists into sculptures constructed from aluminum sheets covered in latex, which can be touched through pink surgical gloves and lubricating oil.
Utilizing a method that parallels sexual gratification, Fuhr put her images of Brooke Candy, Abella Danger, Mia Khalifa and RuPaul's Drag Race star Shea Couleé through an "edging" process, which featured the repetitive layering of latex that was whipped and rubbed onto the photos. Afterwards, she would then reach the "climax" stage, where she would peel off the rubber to reveal the finished piece, which posits each subject as "a caricature of how we deal with and process the aesthetics of sex in pop culture," per Fuhr.
As the Canadian-born artist told PAPER, "Compersion" was inspired by her work as a photographer and "the opportunities I get to embark in voyeurism," meaning she wanted to focus on "the untouchable," specifically the pornstars, celebrities and dommes we admire from afar.
After all, Fuhr went on to explain that these sorts of ideas make up a significant "part of our subconscious," so her goal was to create something that explored several contemporary sex subcultures through the lens of "freedom and queerdom," all while actively limiting the "threat of a disruptive male gaze" during such a vulnerable interaction with these voyeuristic desires.
"It's all about observing the interactions but also referencing the interaction between the viewer and the celebrity icons, who are mostly rooted in the aesthetics of sex," as Fuhr said.
"There's a taboo implication," she added. "And I'm giving permission to touch in a public setting."
"Compersion" is on view at LA's SADE Gallery from February 14 - March 14, 2023, with part of the proceeds going towards the Center for Positive Sexuality. Until then, you can learn more about the exhibition via Fuhr's Instagram.
Images courtesy of Maya Fuhr / SADE Gallery
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