For the past decade, Brooklyn-based photographer Rachel Sussman has been researching, working with scientists, and traveling all over the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older. Her 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.
From 500,000-year-old actinobacteria in the Siberian permafrost to a lone spruce standing on a mostly barren mountain in Sweden, her images capture both the robustness and fragility of life. While these organisms’ longevity dwarfs even that of human civilization, they all depend on ecosystems in fine balance — a balance thrown into question by human encroachment and climate change.
Sussman’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe in venues including the Museum of Natural History.