Stemming from his fascination with early 80s and 90s New York street culture, photographer Matt Lambert’s oeuvre is a distillation of plural sub cultures, tapping into many social niches whilst simultaneously managing to capture the essence of contemporary Berlin youth culture. It is a re-rendering of his own childhood in Los Angeles, channeling his own residual feelings of confusion, aggression and suffocation through the subtler and more stable image of modern Berlin youths. His inspiration stems from numerous cultural movements, be it, Punk Rock, Skate, Skinhead, Mexican Gang, Drug, Porn, and the later Homo-punk, and transgressive queer movements, creating a tapestry of subculture. Yet despite this retrospective inspiration, his work is highly contemporary, focusing on adolescent identity and intimacy. It unravels the complexities and confusion of adolescent existence, and stresses the liminality and at times sense of loss synonymous with this time. His work is therefore in both rooted in time, and yet distinctly timeless; capturing a period of constant redefinition and elevation.
Indeed this is captured most clearly in the Matt Lambert vs. Christopher Shannon collaboration, in which he captures the designs in a state of decay, in the aftermath of hedonism, exploring the comedown iconic of Berlin’s party scene. There is a distinct sense of absence in these images, a timeless quality, and a sense of dehumanisation, with models staring at what appears to be nothing and no-one. We are presented with a monograph of Berlin’s lost boys, trapped in the decay of hedonism, in a weightless and timeless world.
Sexuality is also a driving force in his work, exploring the undefined sexual boundaries of adolescence, and most importantly an exploration of homoeroticism. There are at times even elements of voyeurism in his photos, seen through the sheer rawness of his imagery which is undeniably inspired by porn subculture. And it is this unflinching and untainted depiction of contemporary youth, mixing both hedonism and decay, which is quite so fascinating about Matt Lambert’s work.