The sepia-toned pictures of photographer Ken Rosenthal seem to narrate stories from ancient times. They could be snapshots from the beginning of the 20th century, showing scenes and stories, told by our grandparents. Most of the photographs in this series are intensely personal, yet many speak to a common experience like friendship, leisure, love, adventure, joy or hope.
Rosenthal was paging through albums of family photographs and was struck by the realization that many of the pictures were bringing back strong memories occurred before he was born, or at times or places he was not present. These memories were so vivid to him, yet were indeed false memories. Fascinated with how many of our recollections can be attributed to a photograph, dream or story as opposed to an actual experience, he began to cull imagery from archives of family photographs and personal work. The series ‘Seen and Not Seen’ is a merging of the autobiographical and the universal. Interestingly, as this body of work has evolved, some images have become so resonant that the lines between experience and invention have blurred even more.
Like life itself, this series is at once true and fictitious, remembered and reconstructed, seen and not seen.
All images © Ken Rosenthal