This blog and my Instagram account will keep you updated about the "outer space" series.
06 May, 2020
skype interview with curator Benjamin Weil
Michael Najjar´s video artwork "terraforming" is on view at the exhibition "Fluidities: Imagine the humanity that comes" at Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains. The aim of the exhibition is to show the different systems of representation that refer to the state of our world, or prefigure the world of tomorrow; Due to the Covid-19 crisis the exhibition is temporarily closed. Michael did a skype interview with curator Benjamin Weil to discuss the current situation and the thoughts behind the idea of terraforming.
When the Russian inventor and pioneer of astronautic theory Konstantin Tsiolkovsky first saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1895, the sight of it inspired him with a strange and rather quixotic idea. The American engineer and space scientist Jerome Pearson turned this idea into a model which he presented to NASA in 1969. Arthur C. Clark, science fiction author und creator of 2001 – A Space Odyssey took up Tsiolkovsky’s futuristic vision in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise, introducing it to a worldwide audience. This vision was nothing less than a space elevator – a platform circling the Earth at a height of 36,000 km and attached to the Earth's surface by a gigantic cable. An elevator capsule travels up this cable at a speed of some 200 km an hour to the platform in geostationary orbit moving at the same rotational speed as the Earth. The journey into space would start from some point in the ocean, preferably some point near the equator, from a platform swimming in the sea or mounted on an island from where a gigantic cable would reach up into the heavens. The material composition of the elevator cable itself is the most essential requirement for putting an elevator into space. It must be extremely lightweight yet strong enough to withstand the tremendous forces to which it's exposed, strong enough not to snap under its own sheer weight. Such a cable could be fabricated from carbon nanotubes which are harder than steel yet much lighter and more elastic. So far attempts have only succeeded in producing nanotubes of a few centimetres in length in the laboratory, but this could well change in future. The Obayashi Corporation in Japan recently presented a detailed technical concept and plans to build a space elevator by the year 2050.
The work “ascension” visualises the utopian vision of a space elevator. The picture's composition brings the three elements of ocean surface, island, and clouds together forming a sublime landscape bathed in dramatic light. The picture is divided in the middle by a vertical black line which also serves as a connecting element and is reminiscent of Barnett Newman‘s famous Zip Paintings. Viewers approach the picture from a distance with a wandering elevated gaze which, as they draw near, glides over the surface of the water, confronts the island from where it is catapulted straight upwards. In the background the horizon softly dissolves into clouds, the surface of the earth merges seamlessly with the sky. The horizontal breadth, the elevated gaze, and the vertically rising line conjoin the terrestrial world with space above it. The natural landscape evocative of paintings by Caspar David Friedrich has an added disruptive technological element, the taut cable of the space elevator connecting Earth with outer space. While the landscape elements were photographed by the artist from aboard a helicopter, the cable itself is a peculiarity as it is based on an electron microscope shot of a tiny fibre of a carbon nanotube produced in the laboratory and digitally reworked into a giant sky-climbing cable. In reaching the upper edge of the picture and disappearing softly into the clouds, it opens an infinite transcendental space in which the viewer's imagination can freely roam.
06 February, 2020
"terraforming" video on view at Studio National des Arts Contemporains
"terraforming", Michael Najjar, 2017, HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo, 9.10 min.
Prefiguring and speculating on the future of humanity is an exercise humankind has been particularly keen on, at least for the past century. One of course also thinks of the prescient writings of Jules Verne, who envisioned stories based on the use of new technologies that would enable human beings to travel fast to remote loci or explore otherwise unreachable parts of the planet. It is undeniable that technology has affected every aspect of our lives and has profoundly transformed human living conditions in the course of the past two centuries and even more so recently. In the course of the past three decades, the advent of powerful, networked micro-computing has profoundly changed the lives of most people on the planet. “Intelligent” technology has now permeated most aspects of our daily lives, and one can imagine this may grow to affect us even more in the future. The aim of the exhibition is to show the different systems of representation that refer to the state of our world, or prefigure the world of tomorrow; it is about the way in which artists can help us understand the problems in play when envisaging the future of humanity.
Michael Najjar participates at the exhibition with his video work "terraforming", created in collaboration with Dieter Jaufmann.
Hicham Berrada, Alfonso Borragan, Shu Lea Cheang, Cliff Evans, Joan Fontcuberta, Karlos Gil, Antony Gormley, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, Yosra Mojtahedi, Michael Najjar, Pedro Neves Marques, Philippe Rahm, SMITH x Diplomates, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Teresa Van Dongen
The exhibition is curated by Benjamin Weil and Pascale Pronnier
VSS Unity spaceship transferred to Spaceport America
The "VSS Unity" Spaceship finally has arrived at its new homebase Spaceport America! After years of developing, constructing and testing the vehicle at the Mojave desert, the relocation to Spaceport America near White Sands, New Mexico is a huge milestone towards the beginning of commercial flights. On the picture you see the spaceship attached to its mothership VMS Eve. This is the spaceship that I will enter one day!
Our current approach to space exploration is now transitioning towards an innovative concept of space industrialization which involves the construction and maintenance of infrastructures directly in space. Triggered by the emergence of reusable rockets, new materials and processes, the rapid development of the New Space sector marks the advent of an unprecedented industrial and cultural revolution. A leading role in this transition is played by Elon Musk´s company Space X which aims to reduce space transportation costs sufficiently to enable space industrialization and the future colonization of Mars. The artwork "space renaissance” pictures SpaceX´s Falcon Heavy rocket standing on the historic LC-39A launchpad at Cape Canaveral spaceport. The photo was shot directly on the launchpad very close to the rocket on the day of its inaugural commercial flight on 12 April 2019. The graphic black and white aesthetic, the lower perspective, and the duality between tower and rocket underline the sculptural physicality of the rocket.
19 November, 2019
Video interview on "outer space"
On the occasion of the "outer space“ exhibition at BANK Gallery in Shanghai I did an interview with Sola Media talking about my plans to become the first artist to travel into outer space.
"Beyond the Horizon" - exhibition at Wittenstein Innovation Factory
We are living in an age in which science, technology and society are all closely intertwined. Technological innovation processes drive social change and over the past few decades have led to an enormous acceleration in the transformation of our social, cultural and economic structures. In the Wittenstein Innovation Factory in Igersheim, Germany, Michael currently shows large-format photo and video works from his “outer space” series. His exhibition “Beyond the Horizon” explores the impact cutting-edge development and innovation in space research will have on our future life on Earth, in Earth-near orbit and on other planets. The exhibition comprises of over 20 large-format photographic works and a video installation.
17 October 2019 - 30 September 2020.
Visiting the exhibition
The exhibition may be visited at any time upon appointment and in a guided tour. The tour is free of charge.
BANK Gallery Shanghai presents the exhibition "outer space", Michael´s debut solo exhibition in China. The gallery is one of China´s most reknown galleries for contemporary art and represents Michael since 2019. The exhibition comprises 17 large scale photographic artworks and 2 video works.
Exhibition dates: 21 Sep - 27 Oct, 2019
Building 2, Lane 298
Anfu Lu, Shanghai 200031
12 August, 2019
"terraforming" exhibition at Galería Juan Silio, Spain
Galería Juan Silió presents "terraforming" - Michael Najjar´s 4th solo exhibition at the gallery. For living systems Earth has been the primary environment for eons. Climatic changes or other shifts in the information flow have resulted in the rise and fall of thousands of species over time. Now the human species faces existential threats arising from environmental transformation, overpopulation, climate change, terraforming, diminishing resources, and shortages in the energy, food and water supply. Human systems create and use new technologies as tools of social evolution. We now live in a techno-system functioning cooperatively with humanity and the natural system of the planet. This system called technosphere is the defining matrix and main driver behind the ongoing transition of this planet into the new geological epoch of humankind, the Anthropocene.
The "terraforming" exhibition focusses on the on the dramatic transformation of our natural environment into post natural landscapes and the most existential question of the 21st century: saving the Earth’s future.
Exhibition dates: 13 August – 8 October, 2019
Galería Juan Silió
C/ Sol 45, ES-39003 Santander
21 June, 2019
New artwork "lunar explorers"
20, July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s first moon landing in the Sea of Tranquillity, one of the most challenging adventures in human history. During six NASA missions from 1969 to 1972, a roll-call of twelve men landed, walked, drove and worked on the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Harrison Schmitt, and Eugene Cernan. The successive Apollo crews brought a wealth of scientific instruments to the moon´s surface and performed hundreds of experiments, monitored from Earth by radio telemetry, which have revolutionized our understanding of the celestial body and its relationship to Earth. However, the most significant tangible objects obtained from the moon landings and the Apollo program may well be those photos showing how our Earth appears from the surface of the moon. Looking homeward from that great distance and seeing the Earth as a tiny precious oasis of life lost in the vastness of space has generated a totally new sense of what it means to be human. The Apollo program has created a very profound shift in our anthropological perspective, as suddenly and for the first time we can actually see that we are all one planet and one intricately interconnected ecosystem.
The artwork “lunar explorers” is a homage to the first moon landing 50 years ago and the twelve moonwalkers, the most important explorers of the last century. Equipped with Hasselblad cameras, the Apollo astronauts took thousands of photographs; these unprocessed versions of original NASA scans are the source material on which this artwork is based. The composition of the lunar landscape highlights the emptiness of the virgin territory but also the first scientific human activities on another celestial body. The artwork shows the twelve astronauts walking and working together on the lunar surface, conducting experiments, collecting rock samples, driving around with the lunar rover and taking pictures. The left panel of the triptych features the crew of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while the right panel shows the Apollo 17 crew, Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, the last man on the moon thus far. The centrepiece is given to the other eight astronauts and their diverse activities and technical installations. The grey tones of the arid lunar landscape contrast with the shimmering blue of the Earth which appears as a far distant home while the antenna of the Lunar Roving Vehicle directed at Earth seems a point of connection between our home planet and these extra-terrestrial activities. For centuries, fascination with the moon has created an ideal realm in which our imaginations and phantasies about the expansion of human presence in outer space may freely roam. The moon landing was such a tremendously inspirational event because it demonstrated that human beings can accomplish seemingly impossible ventures when they come together and work together for something that’s much bigger than themselves. Of the 12 Apollo astronauts shown in this artwork, only four are still alive today.