Oldest Living Things on Earth by Rachel Sussman

The Oldest Living Things on Earth is the title of a book and currently an exhibit by Photographer Rachel Sussman. Her work took her to remote destinations where she documents the oldest living fauna to put the span of life on earth in perspective. The images include moss, lichen and a unique shrub that resembles moss.

Antarctic Moss

5,500 years old; Elephant Island, Antarctica. This moss bank is also near the site of the famed Shackleton Expedition, marooned here 100 years ago.

“I spend an enormous [amount of] time getting to remote places,” said Sussman. “It takes months, sometimes years, to plan a trip to these destinations. I try to find a sweet spot in terms of timing: optimal weather and light for shooting at as many locales as possible, without overextending myself and doing too much.”

Photo by Rachel Sussman

Antarctic Moss Rachel Sussman



2,000+ years old; Atacama Desert, Chile. This shrub, a relative of parsley, can be found in the Andes across Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

“Shortly after 9/11, I left New York to take a cross-country road trip. It was my first time as a solo female traveler and the experience served as a kind of warm-up for the last eight years that I’ve spent working on this project. … Driving the Pan-American Highway in Chile seemed scary, but after asking people about it, I was assured it was safe.”

Photo by Rachel Sussman

Llareta, Atacama Desert, Chile

Exhibit took place Nov 2014 in Brooklyn, NY at Pioneer Works.

Six Images from the Oldest Things in the World exhibit / book here.

Learn more about the photographer Rachel Sussman and book.


Moss Book by Karen Nierlich
Photographer Karen Nierlich is author of Moss and Lichen a book of urban and wild moss photos available from Lulu.com