Grad students don't typically work at the Yale Daily News, but MFA candidate (and Vice contributing photo editor) Matthew Leifheit was interested in shooting student life. So interested that he became a staff photographer for the paper, reporting on play rehearsals, sporting events, and the fall foliage. Standard ivy fare. Or was it?
For every straightforward shoot of a swim meet or a dance, there were the pictures that didn't make the final edit. A kiss behind the trees, a young man in the shower. They wouldn't have been right for the paper, but, as Matthew says, "sometimes the most interesting pictures are not best for the story." So he decided to compile these outtakes into his own rogue newspaper, distributed around campus at the same places as the Daily News.
Visiting critic Collier Schorr responded to the subversive quality of the project (unsurprising, given the echoes of Collier's own still, sensual work). "The outtake has always been of interest to photographers because the modern nature of the medium almost curses us with too many options," she tells i-D. "What's a shift in Matthew's consideration is the Yale Daily News as a foil for the decisive moment. In fact it's a set-up. The picture is the anti- news or the anti-now or the anti-feature."
Printed in black and white on newsprint, the pictures feel dreamy, and darkly erotic at times. These are the undersides to each moment that normally go undocumented. As Collier says, "The pictures do and do not fit in with history." Like a guy hovering in a doorway with a Guy Fawkes mask in the foreground, or delicate hands suspended over a Ouija board. And there are expressions of pure form, like the repeating shots of a tennis player in motion from the back. As Matthew says, "my mind wanders on assignment sometimes." Together, these outtakes form a kind of secret history somewhere between the fantasy of the Ivy League and the more intimate reality.