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As Time Goes By Relationships over the years

“Every picture is the record of a relationship - the sum of the pictures is a record of time.” This is how photographer Barbara Davatz describes her long-term portrait series, which has become a classic of Swiss photography. The project, As Time Goes By, is currently the subject of an extensive exhibition at the Fotostiftung Schweiz and a new book.

In 1982 Barbara Davatz took portraits of 12 young couples – who were either lovers, friends or related – against a light grey background. She recorded the personal and collective data of the sitters soberly but with compassion.

She continued the series of portraits in 1988, 1997 and 2014, rigorously documenting the change or continuity in the sitters’ lives and relationships, as well as tracing the development of self-perception and style. As she photographed every sitter with his or her current partner, an intricate network of relationships was revealed.

The portrait series addresses, without ever being voyeuristic, ageing, loss, the growth of families and how society and fashions change over time. In short: Davatz’s work is about making visible the passage of time – and what it does to us.

(Text: Ester Unterfinger,

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