Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things in the World

Terminal 3

Apr 19, 2018 - Jul 12, 2018

Rachel Sussman: The Oldest Living Things in the World

Since 2004, Brooklyn-based artist Rachel Sussman has been traveling the globe in search of continuously living organisms that are at least two thousand years old, which she photographs and chronicles in her series, The Oldest Living Things in the World.

Sussman’s project engages multiple disciplines, spans continents and millennia, and is underscored by an innate environmentalism. Beginning at “year zero,” and working backwards, she photographs the Earth’s past as it exists in the present moment. Relentlessly researching species and working with biologists, Sussman has traveled to every continent on the planet in search of her ancient subjects, which range from two-thousand-year-old Llareta living in the Atacama Desert in Chile, to an eighty-thousand-year-old colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Central Utah. She has worked as a researcher with expedition teams in Antarctica to document five-thousand-year-old moss, and with baobab experts to identify and photograph ancient baobab trees in Kruger National Park, South Africa. The subjects of her photographs have endured millennia in some of the world’s harshest environments, yet climate change and human activity have put many in danger. In this sense, Sussman’s photographs are both timeless and timely—acting as a celebration and record of our past, and a stark reminder of what we stand to lose in the future.  

Rachel Sussman is a Guggenheim, New York Foundation for the Arts, and MacDowell Colony fellow, a two-time TED speaker, and is a member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. She holds a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her photographs and writings have been featured by numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. Sussman’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Pioneer Works Center for Arts and Innovation in New York; Bucknell University in Pennsylvania; the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in Germany; the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in Illinois; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. Sussman’s New York Times bestselling monograph, The Oldest Living Things in the World, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2014.

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