Matthew Leifheit Presents To Die Alive with Jack Parlett

06/16/2022 - 6:00pm


THURSDAY, JUNE 16 AT 6 PM

Photographer Matthew Leifheit is in conversation with writer Jack Parlett to launch To Die Alive, his new photo book that documents Fire Island's gay communities in a nocturnal erotic fever-dream.

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Guests over the age of five must wear masks and show proof of vaccination (either a vaccine card or an Excelsior Pass).



Featuring 77 color photographs and a faux leather cover, To Die Alive portrays Fire Island's world of desire and its layers of history: the Ice Palace bar's infamous underwear party, the men-only Belvedere Guesthouse, clandestine encounters in the Meat Rack, and landscapes in all seasons of the island's delicate maritime forest. The wide-ranging subjects of Matthew Leifheit's 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 is an American photographer, magazine editor and professor. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and the Yale School of Art, he was formerly photo editor of VICE and is currently on faculty at Pratt Institute. Leifheit’s 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 he has edited and published since 2010.

Jack Parlett is a writer, poet and scholar working on queer American literature. His book The Poetics of Cruising: Queer Visual Culture from Whitman to Grindr was published by the University of Minnesota Press in February, and his new book, Fire Island: A Century in the Life of an American Paradise, about the island’s queer literary history, will be published by Hanover Square Press in June 2022. His debut poetry pamphlet came out with Broken Sleep Books in 2020, and his writing has appeared in the New Yorker,Boston Review, Literary Hub, Poetry London and elsewhere. He lives in Oxford, where he currently holds a Junior Research Fellowship at University College.

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