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MICHAEL NAJJAR


Michael Najjar belongs to that contemporary artistic vanguard which takes a critical look at the technological forces shaping the early 21st century. His work is shown in museums, galleries and bienniales around the globe since many years. In his photo and video works Najjar approaches art with an interdisciplinary mindset, transmuting the fields of science, art, and technology into visions and utopias of future social structures emerging under the impact of cutting-edge technologies.


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ABOUT THE ARTWORKS


spacewalk

03'33'' - HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo - 2013
The video “spacewalk” explores linkages between space, gravity, and the human body. A cosmonaut glides down into what seems to be an industrial ambience. The sudden appearance of the globe of the Earth through a porthole dislocates the cosmonaut’s environment and interrogates the relationship between real-world and fabricated reality.The cosmonaut’s meta-voice reflects fundamental thoughts about the relationship between space, time, and movement in a text is based on Isaac Newton’s manuscript De Gravitatione from the seventeenth century. The work draws on a cosmonaut training session taken by Michael Najjar in December 2012 at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The artist himself, locked in his heavy Orlan-M spacesuit, is performing the “spacewalk” in the hydrolab, a deep tank filled with five million liters of water.
The video was realized in collaboration with Thomas Rusch.


orbital cascade_57-46

06'00'' - HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo - 2013
The work “orbital cascade_57-46” visualizes the demographics of defunct objects in orbit around the Earth from 1957 to 2046. This includes everything from spent rocket stages, and old satellites to fragments resulting from disintegration, erosion, and collisions. Currently there are about 600,000 objects larger than 1cm (0.4in) in space, orbiting Earth at a velocity of approximately 28,000 kmph (17,400 mph) and posing a severe threat to satellites, space stations and manned spaceflights. Drawn from a data archive, each spherule in the video represents a real existing object orbiting in space starting with the very first object in space, the Sputnik 1 satellite launched in 1957. 2013 marked the start of a simulated worst case future scenario that assumes two realistic collisions which would dramatically increase the amount of space debris, collisions known in aeronautics as the “cascade effect”. The virtual camera flies up and down through various orbits, ending up deep in space looking down on Earth which will be entirely covered by space debris in the year 2046. 
The visualization was realized in collaboration with the Institute of Aerospace Systems @ TU Braunschweig, Germany.


equilibrium

05'30'' - HD video 16:9, single channel, stereo - 2013
“equilibrium” explores processes of vertigo and disorientation. A pilot seated in a MiG-29 jetfighter is catapulted into the deep blue. Such a stratospheric flight to the edge of space allows the pilot to see the curvature of the Earth, the darkness of the sky and to experience high speed acceleration in combination with high g-forces. Extreme flight maneuvers cause disruptions of the human vestibular system which is responsible for  our sense of balance and spatial orientation. Astronauts have to deal with the scrambling of these senses during their sojourns in zero gravity environments. The work draws on a stratospheric flight taken by Michael Najjar in December 2012 from Sokol airbase in Russia. During the flight, which was part of the artist’s cosmonaut training, he was exposed to a range of minus 1 to plus 7 g and experienced serious disruption of his sense of orientation.
The video was realized in collaboration with Dieter Jaufmann.


skyfall

04'00'' - HD video, 16:9, single channel, stereo - 2015
The video "skyfall" (2015) deals with the relationship between gravitational force and the human body. In its opening sequence the camera pans over a thick layer of cloud to the horizon. Suddenly the scenery starts to jump and jerk as gravity forces the viewer's gaze downwards. Two attached bodies hurtle by in free fall towards the Earth, plummet unchecked through time and space, and gradually decelerate until there is only a few centimeters between them and the viewer with whom they seek direct eye contact. And now the fall changes into a weightless state of floating; the Earth's gravitational force seems vanquished; the two bodies slowly rise again into the sky and recede into the distant haze. For man and machinery, overcoming the gravitational pullof the Earth is both the first requirement for space flight andits major hurdle. "skyfall" is based on a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump which Michael Najjar was the first artist in the world to take in June 2014 in the USA. In tandem Najjar jumped from a plane at minus 50 degrees Celsius, and from a height of 10,000m hurtling in a two minute freefall at a speed of 300km/h towards the surface of the Earth.
The video was realized in collaboration with Dieter Jaufmann.


mission:space

47'41'' - HD video - 2015
Artist Michael Najjar is preparing himself  for a journey into space as part of his „outer space" art project. This documentary film shows his preparations at various aerospace training centers in the USA, Germany  and Russia.
„Michael Najjar is acting, on the one hand, as a concept artist and, on the other as his own protagonist using his own body for the performative action. Through the use of his own body, Najjar's works are related to the Body Art movement, in which artists in the 1960s discovered use of their own bodies as material, and at the same time to Performance art which emerged from the marriage of performing arts and visual arts."
(Dr. Andreas Beitin)
The documentary was produced in collaboration with Dieter Jaufmann and Thomas Rusch.


ABOUT THE ARTIST


Born in 1966 in Landau, Germany, Najjar attended the bildo Academy of Arts in Berlin from 1988 – 1993, where he was trained in the practices of conceptional and interdisciplinary art. During this time he discovered the visionary theories of media philosophers such as Vilém Flusser, Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard which have markedly influenced his later work.

In his conceptual work Najjar magnifies and re-examines the potential of the technical image through constant reconstruction of time and space using a wide range of techniques in thematically focused work series. These range from depictions of the human body transformed by biogenetic intervention, transformation of megacities through condensed information networks, and virtualization of financial markets with smart algorithms to the future of space exploration based on new scientific, engineering, and technological outcomes. His pictorial language of form and content guides the viewer into a complex construction of simulated reality generated by the montage of numerous image sources and elements. Alongside this, the performative aspect of his artistic practice has shifted into sharper focus in his current “outer space” work series for which he decided to become an astronaut and fly into space in the near future on board a newly developed spaceship. He now uses his own body for performative action, testing his limits in physically and mentally demanding, highly complex technical environments. Such extraordinary borderline experiences inform his unique photo and video artworks. Throughout his oeuvre, Michael Najjar repeatedly questions the relationship between reality and its representation through the technical image. His work is distinguished by its supreme technical precision, innate sharpness, and highly artful reinterpretation of reality.


Courtesy of Michael Najjar Studio

 

 


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