WILD NEW JERSEY: The Awl: The Search For The Oldest Living Thing In New York
The Awl: The Search For The Oldest Living Thing In New York
Antarctic Beech Fairy Ring #1211-P1020362 (12,000 years old, Queensland, Australia) Photo Credit: theawl.com
For the past six years, Rachel Sussman, 37, has devoted her life to chronicling the oldest living things in the world before they disappear. A photographer by training and hedge scientist by necessity, her photos are a mix of Annie Liebovitz and Ansel Adams: portraits whose subjects happen not to be human. Sussman has chased down nearly three dozen different organisms, a 400,000-6000,000 year-old bacteria in Siberia, a 2,000-plus year-old olive tree in Crete, and some 3,000 year-old lichen in Greenland, to name a few. She spent February and March chasing down 5,000-year-old moss in Antarctica. She found it, but couldn’t get close enough to get a picture she liked. She had to settle for a photo of 2,200 year-old moss instead. “Some of these things are not photogenic,” she says. And yet their age—and Sussman’s lens—gives them a haunted beauty.