matt lambert explores mexico city in search of modern love

Seeking to honestly portray sex and relationships in the digital age, Matt Lambert’s lens breaks down barriers, and invites any and every subject to help tell the story of love today.

by Cheryl Santos
16 February 2015, 3:55pm

Image courtesy of the artist

Matt Lambert's work is celebrated for the way it challenges convention, for his raw portraits of sexual life, and for setting off on an exhaustive search across the globe to document the intimacy, sex and purity of modern love.So far he's toured Berlin (where he's based), NYC, London and LA and now he's exploring the chaos of Mexico City. i-D Mexico caught up with the filmmaker and photographer as he started his search.

Could you tell me a little about the TV programme you're doing?
Four years ago I decided to walk away from commercials. I blew it all off and moved to Berlin to start over. I began making experimental films; focussing on revisiting my youth, love and sex and relationships. Berlin is very progressive when it comes to sexuality and how young people relate to their identity and operate in relationships. It allowed me to revisit my youth in a dystopian fantasy way. 4 years later I got approached by a major network from the US to create a TV series which is supposed to be a natural progression from my work in Berlin.

Tell us about the stories you want to relay.
Ultimately, it's a collection of love stories of all kinds. I can't say much about the format or where it's going to air quite yet, but it's definitely going to be different than anything you've seen on TV before. We started in London, then Berlin, New York and just finished in LA and are casting now in Mexico City.

Your work shows youth in a rather raw and honest way. What can participants in the series expect from your work?
I'd say this project is much less "extreme" and more romantic, softer and a lot more accessible than a lot of my past work. Which included for example stories of 18 year old prostitutes, escorts and camboys. But this project is not about extremes in any way. I hate to use the term "new normal", but I guess these stories are a little more common and relatable.

And yet you're still true to your aesthetic …
That's definitely true, but I would say it has a much more elevated visual language if you compared to my past work. I'm shooting the whole project with a Cinematographer from Berlin with who I'm working a lot, Cezary Zacharewicz.

What else do you expect from people who go to the casting?
I'm looking for young adults living in a contemporary relationship, open to discuss their sexuality and who are comfortable in their own skin. A very primitive example would be a couple that met on Tinder, or people who maintain long distance relationships via Skype or open relationships between 2 or more. Saying that, it's always about healthy relationships and definitely not capitalizing on tragedy. Ultimately, I'm interested in a story that whilst different from what you usually see, is a beautiful story about trust and honesty. It is a celebration of different types of young love.

Why Mexico City?
I've never been to Mexico City even though I grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by Mexican culture and have always felt very connected to it. I've been talking to a lot of friends and Mexico City kept coming up as a place I had to check out.

I think you'll like Mexico City.
I think so too. Many people have said, 'if you like Berlin, see Mexico City because it has elements of Berlin, but it's like twenty times bigger.' For me, it has always been one of the places to visit, and this project seems the best reason to go. I've also got a pretty cool little social media following of kids in Mexico City who've been pushing me to get come shoot there.

Do you think young lovers are more honest than adults?
It's hard to say... in Berlin, young people don't focus as much on labels when it comes to sexuality or their gender identity, they are just more open to experiment. Thanks to digital culture, kids can have different ideas about love and sexuality as online communities allow them to speak about relationships differently. I imagine that 20 years ago in the United States and you were 21 and went to your local gay bar for the first time, the experience would be so daunting… now as a teen you can talk to people on social networks to explore and understand who you are. There is still a long way to go, but social networks have been a valuable tool to to open the conversation about what it means to be transgender or what it means to exist outside of the binary norm. A lot of trans trans friends have talked about Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook becoming a place that has helped them understand what they are going through and to build a community to support each other by sharing their experiences as well as to find solidarity against discrimination and hate together.

How long are you in Mexico City for?
We'll be here for a month casting, writing and shooting. Hopefully we're able to tell a story that resonate with Mexican youth and also shows Americans a bit more about what it's like to grow up and fall in love down south.

What's the most exciting thing about 2015?
For me? The celebration of love because there's so much fucking darkness around us right now. Every time a minority group moves forward, there is a storm of hatred emerging that forces us two step backwards. I grew entrenched in punk in LA. My work used to be very violent. I retains toward ignorance we often aggressive in the past, but now I'm promoting fighting hatred by promoting love. I'm aiming to present honest stories of beautiful souls filled with love and hope it will change the way the world perceives them. If you are an artist, musician, photographer or anyone who has any kind of public voice, your work can help people. They're small battles but the important thing is to preach acceptance through love.

Matt Lambert's new book, designed by Studio Yukiko and published by Pogo Books, is available from today.


Text Cheryl Santos
Photography Matt Lambert

Matt Lambert
mexico city