Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 20, 2010.

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I'm researching, working with biologists, and traveling all over the world to find & photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old or older

Hi there...

My name is Rachel Sussman, and I am working on a project called “The Oldest Living Things in the World.” I'm researching, working with biologists, and traveling all over the world to find and photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. I started the project 5 years ago, and have since photographed nearly 25 different organisms, ranging from the Bristlecone Pine and Giant Sequoias that you've surely heard of, to some truly unusual and unique desert shrubs, bacteria, a predatory fungus, and a clonal colony of Aspen trees that's male and, in theory, immortal.

On a conceptual level, I'm developing this unique index of living organisms with exceptional longevity at a critical juncture in our collective trajectory: how will the natural world fare in the face of climate change? Part art, part science, part philosophy, I hope to tease out themes of longevity, sustainability, the natural sublime and mortality through the work.

On the practical side, I have around 10 more organisms on my list to find and photograph before turning the project into the book. Where do I need to go, and what do I want to photograph, you ask? The biggest trips include:

  • Searching the Antarctic Peninsula by boat for 5,000-year-old moss
  • Backpacking in Tasmania and mainland Australia in search of several clonal shrubs in ranging from 10,000 to 43,000 years old
  • Visiting a sacred site in Sri Lanka for a nearly 2,300-year-old Banyan Fig tree
  • SCUBA diving in Spain to find the 100,000-year-old clonal sea grass

As you can imagine, this is a very expensive undertaking. Thus far the project has been largely self-funded, and helped along by some generous friends and family. Your support couldn't come at a better time! It will help cover the costs of:

  • Travel expenses (flights, accommodations, other transportation)
  • Film (yes, I still shoot film!), processing costs, printing
  • Specialized gear (i.e. a parka for Antarctica or SCUBA equipment rental for the sea grass)

Thanks so much for your interest in The Oldest Living Things in the World, and please visit my website -- http://www.rachelsussman.com and blog -- http://oltw.blogspot.com -- for more images information!

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    **ART** RACHEL SIMMONS, fine artist and chair of Art & Art History at Rollins College has donated her 17" x 20" work entitled "Pink Crab" from her series "Wonders of the Sea." Valued at $200. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Canadian-based artist ALEKS BARTOSIK, donated 6"x 6" work entitled "sweet dreams, he would tell her each night" from her "girls in bed" series, bringing Marcel Dzama to mind. Valued at $300. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Multidisciplinary visual artist OLIVIA VALENTINE donated her 11x14 C-Print, "Gingham Reconstruction Image," where she's doing heady things with familiar materials. valued at $350. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** ALICIA ACKERMAN's 16x20 framed C-print "Flag" from her "Hide and Seek" series is as elegant and inventive as, well, a foot in a glove. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Multidisciplinary visual artist FIRAT ERDIM is a exploring the boundaries between landscape, architecture, and sculpture in his 11x14" piece "Chicago Bulkhead" valued at $350. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Vanderbilt Republic Mechanicals! 5 of these gorgeous hand made book proofs have been generously donated by my former SVA classmate George Del Barrio. Watch his Kickstarter video to find out more http://bit.ly/92Ig8L

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    **ART** The hottest potato I've ever seen - "Pertatertot" by talented photographer MONICA BRADLEY, who has a knack for creating the uncanny out of the everyday. 1 of 10 from the series "Pathetic Still." 11x14," valued at $400. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Celebrated photographer Sarah Small donated the delightful and daintily-scaled "Molly and EllyMay" from her series "The Delirium Constructions." This is a framed, 2”x 3” miniature valued at $220. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** WSJ Online Design Director LAURA HOLDER donated "Untitled (Williamsburg Bridge, Chandelier)", a beautiful illusion of a chandelier floating above the bridge. Approx 11x15." AP, valued at $500. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Photographer and Humble Arts Curatorial Director Jon Feinstein donated a print from his Fast Food series entitled "42 Grams." Yep, that's the fat content of the burger in question. Valued at $500, only one 16x16 print available! (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** Painter Diana Folsom donated her beautiful 18x18 acrylic on panel work "Interstellar Dust," part of her ongoing investigation of nature and the Sublime. Valued at $1000. (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    **ART** MacDowell Colony fellow Angela Cappetta donated an 11x14 chromogenic print of "Medusa, NY 2005," a gorgeous image of a country dining table at dinner time. Valued at $1,200, only one available! (Click "Updates" for more info.)

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    Receive a 13x15 inch OLTW signed and editioned print + An invitation to attend a special cocktail reception at my studio in Brooklyn (date TBD) + A *thank you* on my website and my gratitude for your support.

Funding period

- (84 days)