The Wisdom Project

Goodlifer: The Wisdom Project

Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass on to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman started the Wisdom project. Produced with cooperation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Wisdom project seeks to create a record of a multicultural group of people who have all made their mark on the world.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Denis Healy.

Denis Healy.

The impressive list of subjects — people like Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Close, Terence Conran, Clint Eastwood, Jane Goodall, Vaclav Havel, Billie Jean King, Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, Willie Nelson, Mary Quant, Ravi Shankar and Massimo and Leila Vignelli — are all presented against a white backdrop, removing them from their context. This, according to Zuckerman, “not only democratizes them, but also allows for a clear dialogue to exist between them.” The subjects are all also over 65 years of age.

Chuck Close.

Chuck Close.

Goodlifer: Wisdom

Dame Judi Dench.

Dame Judi Dench.

In an effort to create more profound, honest, and truly revealing portraits of these luminaries, the project encompasses their voices, their physical presence, and the written word. It is a fascinating account of lives well-lived and will surely serve to inspire generations to come.

Frank Gehry.

Frank Gehry.

Chinua Achebe.

Chinua Achebe.

Says Zuckerman: “My whole life I’ve looked up to older people. It just seemed logical to me. These are the people that have done it, they have all the secrets. So why wouldn’t you ask them? It was interesting for me, as a young guy — I had my first kid this year, I’m just starting a family, I’m really just starting my career, in many ways — to go out and get to talk to all these people who have already done it, and ask them: ‘how did you do it?’ ‘how do you feel now about it?’ ‘and what did you learn?'”

Edward Kennedy.

Edward Kennedy.

Henry Kissinger.

Henry Kissinger.

I think it’s about time we take a step back from our increasingly youth-centered society and start listening to our elders. There is no way to create life experience other than by living. All traditional societies have some sort of elder that they look up to and consult — be it shamans, tribal leaders, popes, gurus or silverbacks.

Kris Kristofferson.

Kris Kristofferson.

Esther Mahlangu.

Esther Mahlangu.

There is actually a group of eminent global leaders called The Elders. It was started by Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel, is led by Nelson Mandela, and offers “collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.”

Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela.

Graham Nash.

Graham Nash.

Wisdom was released in October 2008, but it is an ongoing project — a timeless work of art and something everyone should put on their holiday wish list. Andrew Zuckerman has since came out with a book called Bird, a follow-up to his first, Creature. Zuckerman has also reportedly teamed up with Archbishop Tutu again for a similar project called Music, which will feature 50 musicians of all age groups. If it’s even half as stunning as the previous books, it will definitely be worth a look.

Included with the book is a 60 minute film — be sure to watch the Wisdom trailer, below.

Top photo: Clint Eastwood. All photographs by Andrew Zuckerberg, from his book Wisdom.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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    rasida7
    USA

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