Nearly 10 years ago, photographer Rachel Sussman began researching with biologists and traveling world to document forms of natural life that are at least 2,000 years old for her project titled “The Oldest Living Things in the World.” Part art, part science, Sussman’s project engages with the natural world in order to capture a brief moment in the organisms’ millenia-old lives; her photographs ask viewers to consider their own lives alongside these natural ones, some on the verge of extinction. Each of her photographs includes text below the image describing the subject, its location, and its age. In the preface to her project’s book, Sussman writes,
“What does it mean when the organic goes head-to-head with the geologic? We start talking about deep time and the quotidian in the same breath, along with all the strata in between. All of these organisms are living palimpsests: they contain myriad layers of their own histories within themselves, along with records of natural and human events; new chapters written over the old, year after year, millennium after millennium. When we look at them in the frame of deep time, a bigger picture emerges, and we start to see how all of the individuals have stories, and that all of those stories are in turn interconnected — and in turn, inextricably connected to us all.
The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.”
Laurence Aëgerte‘s conceptual photography series, “Hermitage, The Modernists” depicts staged people and objects in front of classic paintings – by artists like Van Dongen, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Picasso – that were on view at the Hermitage Amsterdam during 2010. Aëgerte’s series complicates the expectation of the experience of iconic works by turning them into photographic palimpsests – the patterns, textures, and colors of the people and objects are juxtaposed against the paintings-as-backdrop that frame the foregrounded subject, elevating the layers of significance of the original painting.
Aëgerte says, “I wanted to investigate our individual relation to art and our perception of iconic artworks. The more the icon is alive in our mind—by means of reproductions and stories around it—the higher is the intensity of the expectation to be confronted with its reality. But what can we really experience of it? When our vision of a work of art is altered, it becomes a reversed mirror—anchored in our present time. By layering the images, I seek the in-between spaces and bits of time that occur in the process of looking.”
The title of Joseph Gerhard‘s series Unmade Beds is self-explanatory. Gerhard says he thinks of these photographs as “portraits by proxy of the person who just slept there.” It is interesting to think of these as art — no two alike, ever-changing, telling a story about your form and movement — a daily unintentional installation that speaks on your behalf.