The Oldest Living Things in the World

"What sets Sussman apart from other conceptual artists is that her research project is closely related to the research of a scientist....The Oldest Living Things is a category that is defined by curiosity, humane character, a fascination with deep time, and the courage of an explorer."  

—Hans Ulrich Obrist

Since 2004 I’ve been researching, working with biologists, and traveling the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older: The Oldest Living Things in the World.

The work spans disciplines, continents, and millennia: it’s part art and part science, has an innate environmentalism, and is underscored by an existential incursion into Deep Time. I begin at ‘year zero,’ and look back from there, exploring the living past in the fleeting present. This original index of millennia-old organisms has never before been created in the arts or sciences.

I approach my subjects as individuals of whom I’m making portraits in order to facilitate an anthropomorphic connection to a deep timescale otherwise too physiologically challenging for our brain to internalize. It’s difficult to stay in Deep Time – we are constantly drawn back to the surface. This vast timescale is held in tension with the shallow time inherent to photography. What does it mean to capture a multi-millennial lifespan in 1/60th of a second? Or for that matter, to be an organism in my 30s bearing witness to organisms that precede human history and will hopefully survive us well into future generations? 




Most images are available for purchase in two limited editions, 13x16" edition of 10 (starting at $750) and a 44x54" edition of 5 (starting at $7000).  Please get in touch with inquiries. Limited edition books with signed, numbered prints in an edition of 150 are also available. 

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