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A Swiss artist has documented the ageing process of couples over more than three decades. And it’s safe to say that in that period of time, a lot has happened.

Barbara Davatz first captured black and white portraits of 12 couples in 1982. She became interested in how their lives evolved over time, and decided to photograph them again in 1988 and 1997.

Then, in 2014, after years apart from her subjects, Davatz decided to go back and photograph the couples once again to see how much they’d changed in terms of fashion sense, new family members and biological ageing.

She has since released the images in a fascinating collection called ‘As Time Goes By’.

Lili and Franciska in 1982 and 1997

Based on the original 12 double portraits she took in 1982, Davatz was able to track the relationship changes of her subjects over time.

One subject Bianca remained with her partner Ernesto for years, but her portrait from 2014 shows a new man in tow, Carlo. Her situation is reflective of many modern couples.

Some of the couples featured in the series had children and even grandchildren, meaning that 14 extra people made their way into the series. The project now covers three generations.

The series tells of separation, of ageing and loss, of the growth of families and the inheritance of family traits, but also, of urban society in each period.

Speaking to Slate magazine, Davatz said of her subjects: “I have always thought of them fondly, as my ‘photographic family’, and I have always been very curious to see what kind of people they brought into the new series – into the family – each time.”

  • Lili and Franciska, 1982
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Lili and Franciska, 1988
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Lili and Franciska, 1997
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Carole and Serge, 1982
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Carole and Serge, 1988
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Carole and Serge, 1997
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Carole and Serge, 2014
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Bianca and Ernesto, 1982
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Bianca and Ernesto, 1988
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Bianca and Ernesto, 1997
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015
  • Bianca and new partner Carlo, 2014
    Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, 2015

Davatz’s work has now been published in a book published by Edition Patrick Frey.

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