Sultan’s My Mother Posing for Me, 1984. © Estate of Larry Sultan, photograph courtesy of the Estate of Larry Sultan.
Sultan’s My Mother Posing for Me, 1984. © Estate of Larry Sultan, photograph courtesy of the Estate of Larry Sultan.

Nothing has as muchrevisionist potential as familyhistory. In 1982, while visiting his parents in Los Angeles, thephotographer Larry Sultan watched old home movies andwas astounded to discover thefantasies of family life that his parents unwittingly projected.Reversing roles, he used stills fromthose films and put his parents in his own photographs, makinghimself “a subject in the drama, rather than a witness,” as Sultan, who died in 2009, once said of the resulting series, Pictures From Home (1982–1992). “I realize thatbeyond the rolls of film and the few good pictures, the demands of myproject and my confusion about its meaning, is the wish to takephotography literally. To stoptime. I want my parents to liveforever.” Sultan’s images of his father in forced early retirement and his mother, a real estateagent, are accompanied by fragments of conversations about theirrelationship with their son andhis project. “Seriously, I just wanted you to know that for themost part, that’s not me I recognize in those pictures,” his father told him, creating a disconnect betweenthe image and its documentary truth. Fact, fiction, or a compositeof the two? Discover for yourself in “Larry Sultan: Here and Home,” the first retrospective of Sultan’s work, running November 9throughMarch 22, 2015, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.