Ken Rosenthal Statement

Artist Statement

That Was The River, This Is The Sea

The past several years of my life have been colored by change, both positive and adverse: a new partner; a new child; loved ones that have fallen ill at an early age; friends and family departed; a life that ended before it began. For the first time in my life I am keenly aware of my own mortality.

This body of work investigates a series of personal transitions, and the ephemeral nature of our experiences, relationships, and lives. The imagery examines, in part, looking at death not with a sense of fear but with an understanding that it is but one of life’s cycles. It is the first series that I have made in ten years that departs from the distinctive diffused printing style that has characterized my work, which has been at once challenging and liberating.

A Dream Half Remembered

A Dream Half Remembered, continues my exploration of personal and collective memories. Employing a formal quality consistent with my previous work, I began work on this series focusing on the shards of memory retained from the dream state, and the often-random structure and narrative of dreams. I utilize diffusion in printing in order to strip away much specificity from the subject, allowing for a more universal reading of the work.

The series shifts between portraits of family and strangers, landscapes, animal imagery, and other familiar yet ambiguous scenes. Initially, I was not consciously aware that the images I was selecting to work with were addressing some of the turmoil in my life and personal relationships. As the work has evolved I've realized the narrative has changed, which in unexpected ways seems to be in keeping with my initial ideas for this series.

Seen and Not Seen

Recently, while paging through albums of family photographs, I was struck by the realization that many of the pictures that were bringing back strong memories occurred before I was born, or at times or places I was not present. These memories were so vivid, 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, I began to cull imagery from archives of family photographs and personal work.

Seen and Not Seen is a merging of the autobiographical and the universal. Most of the photographs in this series are intensely personal, yet many speak to a common experience. 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

Process Statement
All images in the series A Dream Half Remembered and Seen and Not Seen are split-toned silver-gelatin prints. All images are made from a negative shot in a traditional medium format camera. No images have been digitally produced or altered. Each photograph is individually printed on fiber-based paper and processed to archival standards. All images are available in an edition of 25 (15"x15" image size printed on 16"x20" paper.) Although printed in an edition, each print is unique: all photographs are individually toned using multiple toners, and toners and other chemicals are often selectively applied with brushes in areas. Prints are matted on acid free museum board. Prints from the series That Was The River, This Is The Sea have the same process, but are printed 9"x9" on 11"x14" paper, and are in an edition of 10.

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