Barbara Davatz’s As Time Goes By. Portraits 1982, 1988, 1997 is now considered a classic. In 2014, 32 years after having taken the very first pictures of her subjects, Davatz resumed this long-term conceptual project and shot a new round of portraits of the same cast of characters. Back in 1982 she had taken frontal-only shots of a dozen pairs of young people – lovers, friends or relatives, as the case may be – looking straight at the camera, against a light-gray backdrop in her photo studio. She cast a sober and conceptual, but nonetheless sympathetic, eye on the personal and collective details of her subjects and their poses.
In 1988, 1997 and once again in 2014, Davatz got back in touch with the same subjects and, employing the same formal approach to their portrayal, documented continuities and discontinuities, changes in their relationships and in the ways they present themselves to the world. Based on the original 12 double portraits, she was able to draw up relationship charts tracking – depending on changes of partner – up to 16 pairs or subjects over time.
Their ranks have swelled over the years, with the addition of 14 children and even some grandchildren in the meantime, so the project now covers three generations. Other themes have long since been added to the original one of self-presentation. Without revealing any specific personal information, the series narrate a wide array of changes – physical, biographical and sartorial – over time. They tell of separations, of aging and loss, of the growth of families and the inheritance of family traits. But also of current urban society in each period. Davatz’s work is, in a word, about making visible the passage of time – and what it does to us. This book is a very straightforward and yet epic long-term observation of an urban milieu.