Honor Fraser opens a group exhibition that surveys the liberatory affordances of sex

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Honor Fraser opens a group exhibition that surveys the liberatory affordances of sex
Lena Chen and Maggie Oates, OnlyBans, 2023 Digital Game.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Honor Fraser is presenting Erotic Codex, a group exhibition that surveys the liberatory affordances of sex, and the erotic devices that artists use to harness power in an evolving digital landscape. Featuring fifteen artists who embrace the body as a site for rupture, rapture, and reconciliation, the exhibition asks how emerging technologies reconfigure cultural norms around sex, just as they shape the political impact of sexuality at home and in public. In turn, Erotic Codex illuminates the entangled ways that we understand intimacy, artificiality, and our own bodies through the prolonged relationships we share with the technological objects at hand.

Cocurators Alice Scope and Jamison Edgar arouse influential essays by Audre Lorde, Legacy Russell, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha to examine the fantasies our erratic media ecosystems engender. Their exhibition is indebted to these three trailblazing scholars and the theories of power, glitch, and care that they forward. In turn Erotic Codex champions the nuanced ways that queer, femme, and disabled people claim agency, autonomy, and pleasure on their own terms. "The device," seen as both a technological companion and a rhetorical instrument, is taken up to observe the divergent modalities of sex across fleshy-messy networks on– and offline.

In her 1978 essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” Lorde outlines the ways that men weaponize and distort erotic desire against people who do not fit neatly into the categories of traditional masculinity. Lorde argues as a result, the erotic has long been underestimated as a source of empowerment. In the years since its publication, however, “Uses of the Erotic,” has become a cornerstone of feminist literature, and Lorde’s call to embrace the power of self-realized desire has catalyzed rigorous debates on the utility and ethics of body autonomy, pornography, sex work, and gendered labor. Erotic Codex continues in this tradition—asking visitors to contemplate the devices that generate erotic power in an era of accelerating technological proliferation.

Drawing upon nearly three decades of research in the fields of art, technology, and performance, Scope and Edgar cruise the archives of hybrid desire, transforming Honor Fraser into a multisensorial compendium that is at once seductive, deviant, and full of pleasure. Visitors to the gallery will find Honor Fraser veiled in the hued tones of a red-light district, peppered with sculpture and media installations that divide the gallery into four erotic zones.

In the gallery’s largest exhibition hall, a grouping of seven artworks by Bora, Ayanna Dozier, Lolita Eno, Xia Han, Huntrezz Janos, Maggie Oates, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, Miyö Van Stenis dance across a company of suspended video monitors. These pole dancing avatars greet, tease, and flirt with visitors as they navigate an erotic gym caught between intimacy and exhibitionism. Past the gym, Lucas LaRochelle mounts a large-scale installation of their geolocated web browser, Queering the Map, along with QT.Bot, an artificial intelligence model trained with the textual and visual data of the community mapping platform.

In the gallery's screening room, soft cushions adorn the floor in front of Mariana Portela Echeverri's filmed performance, "La Parte De Mi Más Lejos De Mi Es La Punta De Mi Lengua" (The Part of Me Furthest From Me is the Tip of My Tongue). During the durational video, Portela Echeverri adorns erotic prostheses to propose new methods for sensing the body at its furthest limits.

Finally, visitors are guided into a sensual library where the sticky materiality evoked in the exhibition’s title becomes tangible and interactive. Panteha Abareshi, Lena Chen, Nat Decker, Sarah Friend, Matthew McGaughey, Sybil Montet, and Maggie Oates each forward their own entry into the mounting codex. The seductively spot-lit room of sculptures, videos, and games render in real time the erotic power of emerging technologies while antagonizing the sexist and dehumanizing tactics that adjacent media fantasies help to perpetuate.

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