Galería Juan Silió presents the third solo exhibition of Berlin based artist Michael Najjar at the gallery. On view will be several large scale works from Michael Najjar´s current series “outer space including the brand new work “serious anomaly.”
On October 31, 2014, the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup and crashed in the Mojave Desert, California. The spacecraft was performing a powered test flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in which it was dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. About eleven seconds later, the space plane violently broke apart. The suborbital space plane’s “feathering” re-entry system deployed too early. Intensive investigation found the proximate cause of the accident to be pilot error. As one of Virgin Galactic’s Pioneer Astronauts the artist received an email from Virgin Galactic a few moments after the crash: “…during the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle.”
This serious anomaly raises fundamental questions about the relationship between man and machine, humans and technology. The co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, was killed and the pilot, Peter Siebold, was seriously injured. The history of space travel is also a history of failure and tragic accidents. “serious anomaly” is a depiction of the experience of failure which is a fundamental part of all our lives. The composition is a reinterpretation of Caspar David Friedrich´s iconic painting Das Eismeer (1824) (The Sea of Ice – The Wreck of Hope – Die gescheiterte Hoffnung) widely considered as the supreme incarnation of the idea of failure. The painting underscores the relationship between man and nature but also that of technology and nature, as the expeditionary ship is crushed between the implacable shards of ice.
“serious anomaly” is based on a selection of photographs taken by photo reporters in the Mojave Desert immediately after the crash. The pictures from the real event are interspersed with footage the artist shot from the spaceship during previous test flights. The ship in Friedrich´s painting has been replaced by the pilot´s seat which has been found on the ground.
Michael Najjar is a German artist, adventurer and – future astronaut. Born in 1966, he has lived and worked in Berlin since 1988. His work is shown in museums, galleries and biennials around the world. He works with Photography and Video. The focus of his work is on key elements of our modern society driven and controlled by computer and information technologies. Najjar, widely seen as a visual futurist, transmutes science, history and philosophy into visions and utopias of future social structures emerging under the impact of cutting-edge technologies. The fusion of realistic elements with fictitious realities, is a recurrent hallmark in his work which is usually composed in thematically focused series. Najjar demonstrates the potential of the photographic image, capable of making visible what is normally invisible to the human eye. His work visualizes what very often is beyond the limits of our perception, unveiling what is hidden under the surface of what he calls “telematic society“.
In the near future, Najjar will head for outer space in the SpaceshipTwo, a spacecraft currently under development. His work is supported by scientists at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center) and NASA. The defining quality of Najjar’s practice is his empirical approach. “Living through” his motifs, the artist believes, is essential. He began work on his current series by undergoing intense training for future astronauts in Russia’s Star City. Defying physical limitations, Najjar pushed his body to extremes in stratospheric and zero-g flights, centrifuge and spacewalk training sessions, recording what happened to him with the camera in order to probe his own perceptions. The cultural dimension of cutting-edge space technology, its implications for future insights into the universe, space travel, and the repercussions for our society are central issues in his work. In October 2014, Distanz Verlag published the book Michael Najjar – outer space, offering insights into Najjar’s preparations for his spaceflight and presenting the first cycle of works from the outer space series.
Michael Najjar – outer space
With essays by Buzz Aldrin, Anousheh Ansari, Andreas Beitin, Pierre Cox, Lord Norman Foster, Michael López-Alegría, and Sir Tim Smit as well as a conversation between Camilla Péus and Michael Najjar.
23.5 x 30 cm
196 pages, approx. 125 color and b/w images, hardcover
Release: October 2014
€ 44.00 (D) / £ 40.00 / $ 68.00
Buy the book