During the planning process for the second edition of BERLIN, BERLIN, Matt Lambert was one of the first names that came to mind. While not from Berlin, or even Germany, the photographer and filmmaker embodies so much of what is essential to the city. Looking through Lambert's work, you see images of friendship, of club culture, of queerness. Through his photographs and videos, Lambert manages to capture the often ephemeral feeling of joy, of sex, of freedom, which, if you've been lucky enough to spend time in Berlin, you'll recognize.
For his contribution to BERLIN, BERLIN, Lambert teamed up with dancer and artist M.J. Harper and writer and musician David Jainz for a one-day only creative collaboration spanning music, photography, and dance.
The images and videos you see are the result of that process; below, we caught up with the artists to discuss the project, their creative relationships, and the impact of Berlin on their work.
Can you describe your artist practice?
Matt Lambert: I’m a filmmaker and creative director and take photos. I bounce between film, documentary, fashion, performance, xxx work, and music. The common thread is usually a sense of intimacy in “queerness,” but also almost always collaboration. The medium has become a bit less important over the years.
M.J. Harper: An investigation of different disciplines through the lens of movement.
David Jainz: My education is first and foremost on the classical music side, it’s what everything else is blooming and blossoming from. I still find it necessary to have an overview over most of the other art fields, such as literature, dance, theater, and so on. Having the ability to put multiple things into perspective can only be helpful. The more complex you can capture something, the more interesting it becomes.
Does Berlin have an impact on your work?
Lambert: Berlin changed my life and career in every way. Aside from love, it’s been a space where I didn’t have to constantly define myself through systems or “industry.” It’s a place when I can ebb and flow between disciplines without external need for definition. Most importantly, though, it’s a place where I truly found a community — and with new energies always flowing through the city, there’s always someone new to challenge my views and keep me growing.
Harper: Berlin changed my life in ways I could never have dreamt... My work thus far has been and will continue to be a love letter to a city that has given me an additional set of keys to unlock further growth in my life.
Jainz: I spent my childhood, my youth here. A city such as Berlin will have its influences and strains on you. I would behave differently, have become a different person, were I to be in a different city. It’s a city where you have to grow up fast.
Can you describe the process of working on this project?
Lambert: M.J. and I have gone from muse to collaborator to partner on countless projects over the last few years and often the process of creating together is as exciting as the final result. We’d always talked about setting up a sort of free-flowing workshop space where the documentation of the process became half the focus — something I’d first played with during my years with the collective Bare Bones in London around 10 years or so ago. M.J. and I have an intuitive trust and language together, and in this instance, I joined the development of an ongoing project he and David were working on — as an observer and collaborator.
Harper: As the world is still being created, I can say the process so far is the result — by way of social media as a story builder — of six years of finding a voice and a vocabulary through collaboration outside of an institutionalized system, using tools acquired from time spent in service to the institution.
Jainz: I would call it a complementary one. I build myself a structure, or rather a skeleton, which I then fill with material, stories, and pictures. You could consider this to be the tissues and the organs for a body, as a metaphor. M.J. , in contrast, works sequentially. For both of us, having a somewhat contradicting approach, it works surprisingly well, and it's stimulating rather than hindering, which is great.
How do your creative relationships influence your work?
Lambert: They do in every way. Many of my closest friends are also collaborators and even if it’s unspoken, their perspectives are always with me. It may sound cheesy, but after 10 years in Berlin, we have a family who grows together.
Harper: Creative relationships are foundational to the work. The work is a response and an artifact of the emotional connections established through conversation.
Jainz: Since my practice has mostly been solitary, working in collaboration with others is an experience I am expanding within. I'd describe it is as finding and building a language that doesn’t have to be by way of words, but a language that works for the participating parties. Therefore you capture the world where the conversation is being held and that language can shift depending on who takes part within it.