These Photos Show That Ambiguous Space Between Friendship and Sex

Filmmaker and photographer Matt Lambert explores sexual pluralism in beautiful images.

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Jun 18 2018, 2:42pm

This essay originally appeared in the Privacy & Perception Issue of Vice Magazine, created in collaboration with Broadly. You can read more stories from the issue here.

Matt Lambert was born in Los Angeles, but now splits his time between London and Berlin, where he works predominately as a filmmaker. In his videos, as well as his photography, he frequently mines the depths of gay intimacy—and other themes, he says, like “sexual pluralism, multiculturalism, gender equality, and female empowerment.” Last year, he shot a 17-minute X-rated film titled “Flower.” In Out magazine, Chris Thomas describes it as “a dreamy sexual lullaby of a film,” and styled much like a documentary, it follows five friends as they “redefin[e] the line between intimacy, friendship and sex.” Photographs that Lambert shot while on set—what he calls “artifacts”—are the ones mostly included here: A nude man lies naked on a mattress, looking at his cellphone. Two men, in a close-up, kiss, their swapping saliva center and well-lit. A group of young men lounge together, naked, on a bed.

“For gay men, there’s an ambiguous space that exists between friendship and sex,” Lambert says. “This is an exploration between friends and lovers—between, really, what’s fiction and what’s reality.”