|Notes on SEEN AND NOT SEEN||view bio|
It’s an unsettling, but not an uncommon experience: you have a vivid childhood memory—of a birthday party, a trip, a visit to distant relatives. You remember being there, the color of the balloons, the scratchy feel of your aunt’s sofa, only to discover later that your memory is unreliable. You think you recall something only because you’ve seen a photograph of it. In his series “Seen and Not Seen,” Ken Rosenthal evokes this vertiginous sense of nostalgia, of fading memories, of the blurring of fact and fiction. Though his toned photographs, diffuse and blurred, are all from his own family’s photo albums (he either uses original negatives or rephotographs the original prints) they tap into universal associations. Many of the images speak to memories of common experiences – a crying baby, a loved pet, the family vacation. But they also suggest a more abstract set of shared memories and fears – the shadow of a stranger, a child alone in the woods – that is often the stuff of fairy tales, stories that can be surprisingly dark despite being utterly familiar.