Warning: The pictures below depict gay stuff and are very NSFW. If you're not into that, this is probably not for you.
The photographs in Keim, the forthcoming book of Matt Lambert's cinematic gay nudes, are shocking. Many of the LA-born, Berlin-based filmmaker's eerily visceral pictures depict boys engaged in sexual acts. Others feature dudes in repose, drinking and texting naked, or lazily playing with themselves. They seem smutty because of their content, but the nudity is somehow diffused, and treated in turns with cool distance and intense intimacy. Maybe the reason I find them shocking is because I identify with them, and the psychology of the pictures sometimes feels uncomfortably familiar. The book's cover, which depicts an erect penis blowing its load, is the erotic epitome of Cartier Bresson's decisive moment. It's a dirty triumph of photography's ability to freeze time. Yet Lambert doesn't cite photographers among his influences, instead referencing filmmakers from Fritz Lang to Greg Araki. Even more surprisingly, he doesn't think his pictures are subversive.
"If anything, I aim to take subversive issues and humanize them," Lambert told VICE. "Living in Berlin has allowed me to see sexuality as something that doesn't need to be feared. It should be embraced and a vital part of becoming a complete, honest human. There's such a casual quality to the way Berlin deals with sex—it's not even always sexual. I see very little of my work as being about sex. It's more about the intimacy that forms as a by-product of friendship or sexual encounters. There's a camaraderie and trust that I'm trying to capture. Sure, some of these images are pure sex, but most I don't see as sexual at all."
Robert Mapplethorpe was widely accused of using shock tactics to get the art world's attention with his X Portfolio. Maybe Matt Lambert's ability to normalize this kind of imagery is to some extent the inheritance of that shock. In the end, the book is about love and relationships between men.
"I want to reflect a world where there's nothing to fear when it comes to love."
Matt Lambert's first book, Keim (translated to "seed" or "germ"), will be released in April. It's published by Pogo Books and designed by Studio Yukiko. Pre-order it here.
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