Devil-may-care attitude, mismatched underwear and cigarettes after sex. Those are the characteristics of the young protagonists in David Shama’s (b. 1977, Switzerland) photo book Do Not Feed Alligators (2018). By mixing elements of existentialism with a "live fast die young" philosophy, the New York-based photographer reveals the idea of a post-capitalist decadent America that has lost its status of a Dream and has become a contemporary metaphor of a road to nowhere.
A surreal dream world filled with apocalyptic landscapes, abandoned cars, cheap motels and leftover snacks is what motivated Shama to create his own scenario through photographs. His narrative is similar to what legendary New York photographer Nan Goldin (b. 1953) constructed in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1985), and what Ryan McGinley (b. 1977) highlighted in his recently published project The Kids Were Alright (2017). Each of them show hip young people, exuding boredom and loneliness in a forgotten and decaying environment.
Reckless behaviour of a millennial generation that somehow tries to fit in the new system, however still feels left behind, has been a recurring theme in Shama's work. It's also something that keeps reappearing in his fashion editorials for American Apparel, famous for its provocative tongue-in-cheek campaigns.