Beth and The Alternatives




We’ve all witnessed our memories evolve over time as they echo around our minds, clouding over details, adding fabrications and subtracting facts, but never before have we had so much visual documentation of our lives. Photographic evidence is available now for most of us within instant reach in pocket-sized devices, a digital record of the lives we’ve been living. So how do we learn to process these external memories?

Following a break-up, American photographer Matthew Swarts (1970, USA) began to process his feelings of loss by processing photographs of his former partner, resulting in the series Beth. Later, after he entered a new relationship, the work evolved into a second series, The Alternatives, in which Swarts processed images of his new partner, layering the images with optical illusion patterns for an increasingly distorted view of the original image. The images shown here, a selection from the two series (produced 2014-2015) often read as a re-write of personal history, a destruction of the past, though Swarts insists that’s not his ambition. He says: “To me the images are more about memorializing how perception changes over time and shifts in context.”

Learn more about the series in our interview with Matthew Swarts.