This blog keeps you updated on the ongoing "outer space" series

"Space Works" exhibition at Tampere Art Museum, Finland

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The "Space Works" exhibition brings together a selection of contemporary artworks that explore the hopes and possibilities as well as threats and doubts we project onto the infinite universe that lies beyond our home planet. From utopias to dystopias – and the realities in between – the artists’s approaches are in turn fictional and humorous, using the visual languages of the sublime and mundane. Included in the exhibition are artworks that engage with the nostalgia of the Space Age, offer geopolitical and intersectional critiques of space exploration or play satirically with the languages of science and propaganda. From science fiction to fact, some artists celebrate technology, others investigate questions of ecology, surveillance, the military and government secrecy. Finally, artists draw the viewer to the ineffable beauty of space or point to the ideological construction of a cosmic aesthetic. The Space Works is part of the international photo festival Backlight2020.

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Produced by Backlight 2020, the Hasselblad Center of Sweden and the
Tampere Art Museum.

Curated by Melanie Vandenbrouck, Sara Walker, Louise Wolthers,
Hannu Vanhanen and Maija Tammi.

Michael Najjar participates with several artworks from his internationally acclaimed
"outer space" series. His artwork "liquid gravity" became the key visual for the exhibition.

Artists featured in the exhibition:
Monica Alcazar-Duarte (UK-Mexico), Helena Blomqvist (Sweden), Caroline Corbasson (France), Nanna Debois Buhl (Denmark), Joan Fontcuberta (Spain), Johannes Heldén (Sweden), Anna Hoetjes (Netherlands), Sasha Huber (Switzerland-Finland), Michael Najjar (Germany), Agnes Meyer-Brandis (Germany), Bianca Salvo (Italy), Johan Österholm (Sweden)

Exhibition dates: 12 September - 11 November, 2020
https://www.tampereentaidemuseo.fi/en

Catalogue available

"CIVILIZATION" at Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand

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After having been shut down in March, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand is now open again its museum doors unveiling the long awaited exhibition Civilisation.Photography.Now

Due to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on our global civilization this exhibition seems to be more important and up to date than ever. We all share a general sense of what "civilization" means: a highly advanced human society (above clan, tribe, nation, even empire); city-centered, with technological prowess and mastery of the environment; kept more or less in decent social order; with highly developed arts and sciences; and dealing intelligently with threats as they arrive. As we all are doing now, with a natural one. With the arrival of Covid-19, we are all seeing first-hand what a rupture can do to our systems, our processes, our overall way of life. Now we are all acutely more aware of where our food comes from, where our medical supplies originate, and who our governmental representatives are – even on the lowest levels – because they hold the lives of our communities in their hands. Our civilisation has always had its crises, but they have been essentially local, regional or national. Even the 20th-century’s two World Wars did not affect every part of the world simultaneously to the same degree. This crisis has.

Civilisation.Photography.Now is an international photography exhibition of monumental scale, featuring the work of over hundred contemporary photographers from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe with over 200 original photographs being exhibited. The exhibition looks at the phenomenal complexity of life in the twenty-first century.
Michael Najjar participates in this exhibition with 3 large scale artworks from his acclaimed "outer space" series.

Curated by William Ewing and Holly Roussell

Civilisation.Photography.Now is co-produced by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis and Lausanne. Ron Brownson is the co-ordinating curator for Auckland Art Gallery.

Exhibition dates: 16 June - 8 October, 2020
https://www.aucklandartgallery.com

Book available:
www.thamesandhudsonusa.com/books/civilization-the-way-we-live-now-hardcover

new artwork "crew dragon"

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"crew dragon", Michael Najjar, 2020
132 x 202 cm | 52 x 79.5 in and 67 x 102 cm | 26.3 x 40.2 in

The historic “Crew Dragon Demo-2“ Mission was launched on 30th of May 2020 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Nine years after the end of the Space Shuttle program for the first time an American rocket with a crewed spaceship launched from American soil to the International Space Station. Build by the commercial company SpaceX, the Crew Dragon capsule brought the 2 astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on a NASA mission to the ISS. Recently people are talking about the beginning of a new era in space exploration, the so-called space renaissance. The “Crew Dragon Demo-2“ mission can be considered as a milestone of this new era. The spaceship´s futuristic interior design, the blue glowing interactive screens and the sharp looking white space suits of the astronauts also mark the beginning of a new visual aesthetic in human spaceflight. Many of these details remember Stanley Kubrick´s visionary movie 2001 – A Space Odyssey.

The composition of the artwork “crew dragon“ merges several photographs from NASA and SpaceX archives. It includes all relevant components of the mission, e.g. the two astronauts, the futuristic space suits, the blue shimmering touch panels, the capsule, the launch tower with its mobile bridge, the launch itself and the ISS. The palimpsest-like layering and the different levels of transparency of the picture elements dissolve in a soft, cloud-like digital brushstroke. The visual composition is inspired by Michelangelo´s famous painting “The Creation of Adam“, widely considered as a key work of the Italian Renaissance. The center of the image highlights the hand of an astronaut holding a pen. All compositional alignments run into this focus point. The writing and painting hand symbolizes the human ability to create.

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Large scale mural "lunar explorers"

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Michael has installed a huge mural of “lunar explorers” in Bremen, Germany. This was a commissioned work by OHB, one of the leading European companies in the field of space exploration. The mural was installed in the conference room and has the enormous size of 4 x 20 meters (13 x 65 ft).

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 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.

skype interview with curator Benjamin Weil

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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.

https://vimeo.com/415652007
https://www.lefresnoy.net/en/evenement/colloque-lhumain-qui-vient

new artwork "ascension"

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“ascension” (2020)
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.

"terraforming" video on view at Studio National des Arts Contemporains

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"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.

Artists:
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

Exhibition dates: 8 February - 29 April, 2020
Opening: 7 February, 7.30 pm
http://www.lefresnoy.net

VSS Unity spaceship transferred to Spaceport America

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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!

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http://www.virgingalactic.com
©fotos: Virgin Galactic, Foster + Partners

new artwork "space renaissance"

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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.

Video interview on "outer space"

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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.

Click on the link below to watch the full video interview (3.28 min.)
https://vimeo.com/370287244