Stunning Photos of the World’s Oldest Living Organisms

If you’ve done any kind of traveling outside the United States, it will quickly dawn on you just how young America really is. Brooklyn-based artist, 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and TED speaker Rachel Sussman has photographic evidence. Her The Oldest Living Things in the World series, which we first spotted on Photojojo, documents the artist’s research and travels across continents in search of the world’s oldest inhabitants—continuously living things that have weathered 2,000 years or more.

Each photograph bears Sussman’s handwritten annotations (a nod to scientific field notes): the organism name, date captured, catalogue number, age, and location. “Working with leading scientists, she captured everything from multi-millennial trees to 5,500-year-old moss to half-million-year-old bacteria, traveling from Antarctica to Greenland to the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, artfully cataloguing these ancient survivors through her photographs and writing,” a press statement informs us.

Sussman’s photos have been collected in a beautiful hardcover, featuring a foreword by Hans Ulrich Obrist. You can preview the work in our gallery. But Sussman’s solo exhibition at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, open through November 2, is not to be missed. You can connect with the artist October 12 at Pioneer’s Second Sunday event (the center is closed today, October 11).

Soon, Sussman will be shifting her focus from land and sea to the stars. Her upcoming project with the LACMA Art + Technology Lab focuses on Deep Time and Deep Space. For now, venture across the globe to glimpse the world’s oldest living things, below.

Photo credit: Rachel Sussman
Photo credit: Rachel Sussman