I texted Matthew Leifheit for confirmation: “Are PaJaMa the first fags to make a ‘thing’ out of photographing their friends on Fire Island?” Matt is one of those artists who’ve done deep-dive research into the collaborative made up of lovers Paul Cadmus and Jared French, and his wife Margaret Hoening French, each lending the first two letters of their first names to form the silly sobriquet. Starting in the late 1930s the three photographed each other against the shrunken trees and low beach horizon to create a unique brand of sun-bleached surrealism. Their famous friends are ever present, including the photographer George Platt Lynes and American polymath Lincoln Kirstein, who was married to Cadmus’s sister Fidelma Cadmus Kirstein, an artist herself and glorious leading lady. They are each young, athletic and exceedingly photogenic. The images crystalize a myth of the place, where pretty white queers play out amorphous psychodynamics on the barrier island two hours southeast from Manhattan.
New Queer Photography Book To Die Alive Captures Fire Island's Uncanny Evenings
In a new book, Matthew Leifheit channels a lineage of queer photography on Fire Island.