Michael Najjar's outer space work series deals with the latest developments in space exploration and the way they will shape our future life on Earth, in Earth’s near orbit and on other planets. By leaving our home and flying to the moon or other planets, we change our understanding of two of the most fundamental questions confronting humankind – who we are and where we come from. The attempt to penetrate the far reaches of space bears witness to our innate sense of curiosity and our unquenchable desire to push back frontiers and go beyond them. Yet the point is not merely to leave the Earth behind us, but to reflect on what our own spaceship earth means to us and will mean to the generations who come after us.
space garden (2013), hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom made aluminium frame, size 1: 132 x 202 cm, size 2: 67 x 102 cm, ed. of 6
Artwork above: mission control (2016), hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom made aluminium frame, size 1: 132 x 202 cm, size 2: 67 x 102 cm, ed. of 6. Collect this work here.
The cultural dimension represented by emergent cutting-edge space technologies is very much at the center of Najjar´s work – in terms of the deeper knowledge these new technologies will impart about the universe, their impact on space travel, and the way they will influence and shape our lives and work on Earth. This ongoing series started in 2011 with the final launch of the American Space Shuttle Atlantis and currently comprises 31 photographic artworks and 4 video works. The artist has traveled to the world´s most important spaceports like the Kennedy Space Center, Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou in French Guiana. He has met with numerous scientists, engineers and astronauts, and visited space laboratories around the globe constructing new spacecrafts, satellites and telescopes. He traveled to the Atacama Desert in Chile to photograph the world´s most powerful telescopes located at sites across high altitude plateaus in the Andes. His collaboration with leading scientists and space agencies has given him privileged access to locations which are usually unknown to and unseen by the public. The present series blends documentary and fictive scenarios to create visionary enactments of current and future space exploration.
void space (2016), hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom made aluminium frame, size 1: 132 x 202 cm, size 2: 67 x 102 cm, ed. of 6
One essential hallmark of Najjar’s work is the way it is deeply informed by an experiential hands-on approach. The intimate experience of “living through” situations which provide the leitmotifs of his art is vital to the artist. This performative aspect has also become a fundamental part of Najjar´s work process and will culminate in the artist´s own flight into space. As one of the pioneer astronauts of Virgin Galactic, Michael Najjar will be embarking on SpaceShipTwo on one of its future spaceflights where he will be the first artist to travel in space.
To prepare for this flight Najjar is conducting an intensive and ongoing astronaut training program at Star City (GCTC), Russia, the German Space Center (DLR) in Cologne and the National AeroSpace Training And Research (NASTAR) Center in the USA. Defying physical limits, the artist puts his body through a grueling series of training sessions including a stratospheric flight in a MiG-29 jet fighter, zero gravity flights, centrifugal spins, underwater space-walk training in a heavy astronaut suit, and a HALO Jump from an altitude of 10,000m: situations of extremities which he captures on camera to investigate his own physical and mental responses and exemplify them in his works.
The series also includes an assembly of contemporary visions of future life and work in space. Inherent in the actual artworks, these visions are commissioned by the artist and articulated in a series of "vision statements" written by leading figures in space exploration, science, architecture and philosophy including Buzz Aldrin, Richard Branson, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Anousheh Ansari, Norman Foster, and Stephen Hawking.
Works from the “outer space” series have been exhibited internationally in numerous galleries and museums. In 2015, the prestigious DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin, published a comprehensive book on the series.
Collect this work here.