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Matthew Leifheit: To Die Alive
Edited by Elisabeth Biondi. Text by Jeremy O. Harris, Jack Parlett.
Fire Islandís gay communities, documented in a nocturnal erotic fever-dream by Matthew Leifheit
Featuring 77 color photographs and a faux leather cover, To Die Alive portrays Fire Islandís world of desire and its layers of history: the Ice Palace barís infamous underwear party; the men-only Belvedere Guesthouse; clandestine encounters in the Meat Rack; and landscapes in all seasons of the islandís delicate maritime forest. The wide-ranging subjects of Matthew Leifheitís portraits reflect the intergenerational community who come to the island for refuge or employment, ranging from weekend visitors to sugar daddies to bartenders and sex workers. Tinged with sadness, the book's climax mixes feelings of pleasure with desperation and loss. As homosexuality gains mainstream acceptance, many queer Americans no longer need to go to geographic extremes like Fire Island, Provincetown, Palm Springs or Key West to express themselves. But what is the cost of assimilation? To Die Alive is both romantic and grotesque, challenging the sun-bleached history of homoerotic representation on this fragile island, which itself is under constant threat of erosion by the sea.
Matthew Leifheit (born 1988) is an American photographer, magazine editor and professor born in Chicago and based in Brooklyn. A graduate of the Yale School of Art, he was formerly photo editor of Vice and is currently on faculty at Pratt Institute. Leifheitís photographic work has been exhibited internationally and is held in public collections. His photographs have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker, Aperture, Time and Artforum. Leifheit is editor-in-chief of Matte Magazine, a journal of emerging photography that he has edited and published since 2010.
Featured image is reproduced from 'Matthew Leifheit: To Die Alive'.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Matthew Leifheitís photos in ďTo Die AliveĒ give arresting visual life to Fire Islandís layers of experience, to both its vitality and its morbidity, to the weight of its past and the immediacy of its present moment.
The book is poignant and reflective, raising questions on the nature of assimilation, queer representation, and cultural preservation, as Fire Island faces literal destruction by way of erosion and rising sea levels as time wears on.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 6/16/2022
Thursday, June 16 at 6 PM, Rizzoli Bookstore presents photographer Matthew Leifheit in conversation with essayist Jack Parlett for the launch of To Die Alive. Published by Damiani Books, this 144-page hardcover collects 77 color photographs documenting Fire Island's gay communities in a nocturnal erotic fever-dream. Please register here!
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