Michael Najjar

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Michael Najjar is a German photographer, adventurer and future astronaut.[1] He was born 1966 in Landau, Germany.[2] Since 1988, he has lived and worked in Berlin.[3]

Life and education[edit]

Najjar attended the bildo Academy of Arts in Berlin from 1988 – 1993, where he was trained intensively in conceptional and interdisciplinary art practices.[4] During this time he got in touch with media philosophers such as Vilém Flusser, Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard, which have had a strong influence on his later work. The marked global outlook shown in his art is colored by his life and work in Brazil, Cuba, Spain, England, Japan and the United States. Najjar currently works on a new series entitled “outer space“, which is dedicated to the latest developments in space technologies.[5] He is one of Virgin Galactic´s Pioneer Astronauts and will be the first artist in space.[6]


Michael Najjar belongs to the contemporary artistic vanguard taking a critical look at the technological forces shaping the 21st century. 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.[7] In his considered approach to the means and possibilities of photography, Najjar's conceptual work magnifies and re-examines the potential of the photographic image by a constant reconstruction of time and space using a wide range of techniques in thematically focused series. His pictorial language of form and content guides the view into a complex construction of simulated reality.[8] Along this, the performative aspect of his artistic practice has shifted more into focus, since he has decided to become an astronaut and fly into space on board a new spaceship. He now uses his own body for performative action putting himself in highly complex technical environments.[9]


Michael Najjar's work series "netropolis" (2003–2006) is an exploration of the way global cities will develop in the future.[10] Najjar travelled around the globe and climbed – often evading the security guards - the highest towers of twelve megacities. His panoramic view transforms the reality of urban spatial structure into landscape. The digital fusion of panoramic views taken from different angles transforms the landscape into a woven fabric of relationships. The work shows the endless ocean of information, an all pervasive network. A compression of space and time evoking intense and constantly growing global interconnectivity.

high altitude[edit]

For “high altitude“ (2008–2010) Michael Najjar climbed Mount Aconcagua whose 6,962 meters (22,841 feet) make it the highest mountain on the planet outside of Asia. In the Andes Najjar photographed mountain ridges whose petrified zigzag curves served him as a representation of the monumentality of financial markets.[11] He patterned the shots he took on the expedition rigorously on the fluctuations of international stock exchange indices.[12] What he shows are the ups and downs of the markets, and how market reality and simulation are so intertwined as to be almost indistinguishable. What we see are the movements of the tectonic plates of the global economy over the past twenty to thirty years in whose course new peaks are thrown up and earthquakes and erosion are inevitable. Najjar shows the sublime in an age when information technology has become all-powerful.[13]

outer space[edit]

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.[14] The cultural dimension represented by emergent cutting-edge space technologies is very much at the center of Najjars´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.[15] This ongoing series started in 2011 with the final launch of the American Space Shuttle Atlantis[16] and currently comprises 24 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.

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.[17] 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 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.[18]

To prepare for this flight Najjar is conducting an intensive and ongoing astronaut training program at Star City (GCTC),[19] Russia, the German Space Center (DLR - Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) in Cologne and the National AeroSpace Training And Research Center (NASTAR) in the USA.[20] 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,[21] 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.[22]

Since 2017 Najjar is working on new photographic works and videos on the topic of Terraforming.[23] His new works combine footage taken during a three-week trek through Iceland in early 2017 with Martian landscapes shot by NASA´s Curiosity Mars rover and by the HiRES satellite. Calving glaciers, shiny ice caves and powerful waterfalls enter into a visual dialogue with the vast desert landscapes of Mars. Implicit in the visual dialogue is the paradox that humankind might need to transform Mars into an inhabitable environment precisely because we are transforming our home planet into an uninhabitable one.

Najjar's outer space - 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, Tim Smit, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Anousheh Ansari, Norman Foster, and Stephen Hawking.[24]

Works from the “outer space” series have been exhibited internationally in numerous galleries and museums. In 2014, DISTANZ Verlag, Berlin, published a comprehensive book on the series.

Projects Studio Michael Najjar[edit]

In October 2015 Studio Michael Najjar unveiled the world´s first futuristic “Space Suite“ at the Kameha Grand Zurich, Switzerland. The "Space Suite" is a sculptural artwork which has become a habitable zone. The basic idea underpinning the "Space Suite" is to create an immersive environment which makes hotel guests - or crew members - feel like they’re living on an actual space station.[25]

The "Space Suite" was commissioned by Kameha CEO Carsten K. Rath. In 2016 the "Space Suite" by Studio Michael Najjar was nominated as a finalist for the European Hotel Design Award for the best new Hotel Suite in Europe.[26]

Selected exhibitions[edit]


  • Des Moines Art Center, Des Moins, USA
  • Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung, Berlin


  • MARTA Herford, Herford
  • Akademie der Künste, Berlin
  • Palazzo da Mosto, Reggio Emilia, Italy


  • Museo Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Kunstverein Oldenburg, Germany


  • Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, Russia
  • Zacheta National Gallery of Art Warsaw, Poland
  • Fotoverhalen, Gemeentemuseum The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Laboral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón, Spain


  • Somerset House, London, UK
  • Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey


  • Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, USA
  • Salone degli Incanti, ex Pescheria, Trieste, Italy
  • Centro de Arte Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain


  • ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Museum Deichtorhallen, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, Germany
  • Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany
  • Art Stations Foundation, Poznan, Poland
  • CAC Málaga, Spain


  • CAC Málaga, Spain
  • Biennial for Art and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • TEA - Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Teneriffa, Spain


  • Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, USA
  • New Media Art Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Leopold Hösch Museum, Düren, Germany
  • 5. Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie, Darmstadt, Germany


  • GEM Museum of Contemporary Art / Fotomuseum Den Haag
  • Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
  • Museo Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Birmingham, UK


  • FORMA_Centro_Internazionale_di_Fotografia, Mailand, Italy
  • Kunstverein Heidelberg, Germany
  • Museum Kunstwerk, Stuttgart, Germany


  • Cities, architecture and society, Venice Biennial - 10th international architecture exhibition, Italy
  • 9. Biennale Havanna, Cuba
  • Museo DA2 Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain
  • Centre pour l'Image Contemporaine, Genf, Switzerland
  • Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, Germany


  • Auswärtiges Amt, Berlin, Germany
  • Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany
  • National Museum of Science, Thaipeh, Taiwan
  • Convergence Biennale, Peking, China


  • Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain
  • Science Museum, London, UK
  • Photokina, Köln, Germany


  • Deichtorhallen, Internationales Haus der Photographie, Hamburg, Germany
  • Willy-Brandt-Haus, Berlin, Germany
  • Museum Traphold, Kolding, Denmark


  • Kunsthalle Hamburg, Galerie der Gegenwart, Hamburg, Germany
  • Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany


  • Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Forum Fotografie, Hamburg, Germany


  • Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany


  • Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Forum Fotografie, Hamburg, Germany

Work series[edit]

  • outer space, 2011 - ongoing
  • f1, 2011
  • high altitude, 2008–2010
  • bionic angel, 2006–2008
  • netropolis, 2003–2006
  • no memory access, 2001–2005
  • information and apocalypse, 2003
  • end of sex.as we know it., 2002
  • schnittbilder, 2001
  • nexus project part I, 1999–2000
  • Japanese style, 1999–2000
  • ¡viva fidel! – journey into absurdity, 1997

Books and catalogues[edit]

Feireiss, Lukas (ed.), Najjar Michael (ed.), Planetary Echoes. Exploring the implications of human settlement in space, Leipzig, Germany 2017

Najjar, Michael (ed.). outer space. Distanz Verlag, Berlin, Germany 2014

Bollmann, Philipp (ed.): "In-Sight - Photographs from the Wemhöner Collection", Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany, 2012

Najjar, Michael (ed.): "high altitude" Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany, 2011

Bollmann, Philipp (ed.): “Focus Asia - Einblicke in die Sammlung Wemhöner” Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany, 2011

Kolczynska, Paulina “Identity, or on a variety of perspectives” in: “Identity - Photographs of the Grazyna Kulczyk Collection” ex. cat., Poznan, Poland, 2011

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (ed.): “Portraits in series - a century of photographs” ex. cat., Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld, Germany, 2011

Rau, Bodo (Ed.): “Architektur in der Kunst - Architekturen des Augenblicks” ex. cat., Bahnitz, Germany, 2011

Herschdorfer, Nathalie (ed.): “High altitude - Photography in the mountains” ex. cat., 5 continents editions, Milan, Italy, 2011

Melis, Wim (ed.): “metropolis” Stichting Aurora Borealis, Photo Festival, Groningen, Netherlands, 2011

Klanten, Robert / Ehmann, Sven / Schulze, Floyd (eds.): “Visual storytelling: inspiring a new visual language” Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2011

Damian, Angela / Azoulay, Eliabeth / Frioux, Dalibor (eds.): “100.000 years of beauty” Editions Babylone, Paris, France, 2010

Klanten, Robert / Ehmann, Sven / Bourquin, Nicolas (eds.): “data flow 2” Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2010

Klanten, Robert / Feireiss, Lukas (eds.): “Beyond architecture. Imaginative buildings and fictional cities” Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2009

Kerner, Charlotte (ed.): “next generation” Belz & Gelberg, Weinheim, Germany, 2009

Sasse, Julie (ed.): “Trouble in paradise: examining the discord between nature and society” ex. cat., Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, USA, 2009

Edgar Quadt (ed.): “Artinvestor - Wie man erfolgreich in Kunst investiert” Finanzbuch Verlag, Munich, Germany, 2008

van Sinderen, Wim (ed.): “Augmented realities - Michael Najjar works 1997-2008” ex. cat., GEM - The Hague Museum of Photography Veenman Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2008

Miha, Andy (ed.): “Human futures: art in an age of uncertainty” Fact & Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, UK, 2008

Bitforms Gallery / Galería Juan Silió / Najjar, Michael (Ed.): “bionic angel” Berlin, Germany, 2008

Scarpato, Rosario / Piccioni, Monica (eds.): “Map games: dynamics of change” ex. cat., Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China, 2008

Es Baluard, Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma (ed.): “en privat1” ex. cat., Museo Es Baluard, Palma, Spain, 2008

Sacks, Steve (ed.): “bitforms gallery” bitforms gallery, New York, USA, 2008

Explorafoto y Fundación Salamanca Ciudad de Cultura (ed.): “Michael Najjar - information and apocalypse” ex. cat., DA2, Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain, 2007

Ewing, William (ed.): “Face - the new photographic portrait” Thames & Hudson, London, UK, 2006

Herrera, Nelson (ed.): “9th Havana Biennal 2006” ex. cat., Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam Havana, Cuba, 2006

Sanz, Antonio (ed.): “C on cities” ex. cat., 10. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura La Biennale di Venezia, Italy, 2006

Panera, Javier (ed.): “Mascaradas politicas” Explorafoto - Festival Internacional de Fotografía de Castilla y León. ex. cat., DA2, Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain, 2006

Himmelsbach, Sabine (ed.): “Sichtbarkeiten” ex. cat., Edith-Ruß-Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany, 2006

Bitforms / Juan Silió / Guy Bärtschi / Najjar, Michael (eds.): “netropolis” Berlin, Germany, 2006

Najjar, Michael (ed.): “japanese style” ex. cat., Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, Germany, 2005

Mellis, Wim (ed.): “traces and omens” Stichting Aurora Borealis, Photo Festival, Groningen, Netherlands, 2005

Szeemann, Harald (ed.): “The beauty of failure / the failure of beauty” ex. cat., Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain, 2004

Kemp, Sandra (ed.): “Future face - image, identity, innovation” Profile books ldt, ex. cat., Science Museum London, London, UK, 2004

bitforms gallery / Najjar, Michael (eds.): “netropolis” Berlin, Germany, 2004

Felix, Zdenek (ed.): “A clear vision. Photographische Werke aus der Sammlung F.C. Gundlach” Hatje Cantz Verlag, ex. cat., International House of Photography Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany, 2003

Goethe-Institut New York, Najjar, Michael (eds.): “Information and Apocalypse” ex. cat., Goethe-Institut New York Berlin, Germany, 2003

Triennale der Photographie Hamburg (ed.): “Reality-Check” ex. cat., 2. Triennale der Photographie, Hamburg, Germany, 2002

Philipp, Gabriele (ed.): “Mythos St.Pauli - Photographien 1967-2002” ex. cat., Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Bönnigheim, Germany, 2002

Klanten, Robert / Peyerl, Andreas (eds.): “Surreality localizer” Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 1997


  1. ^ Michael Najjar - outer space, Distanz, Berlin 2014
  2. ^ Michael Najjar - outer space, Distanz, Berlin 2014.
  3. ^ Michael Najjar - outer space, Distanz, Berlin 2014.
  4. ^ TIME Magazine: Rachel Lowry, A photographer's Quest for Outer Space, March 16, 2016
  5. ^ WIRED Magazine: Alyssa Coppelman, Training to Become the First Civilian Artist in Space, August 6, 2015
  6. ^ ART Magazine: Camilla Péus, Michael Najjar - Weltansichten, May 2013
  7. ^ Kunstforum International, Globale ZKM Karlsruhe, Issue # 237/2015
  8. ^ Kunstforum International, Michael Hübl: In Para-Metaphysischer Trance, Issue 203, September 2010
  9. ^ DU Magazine: Michael Najjar, #863, February 2016
  10. ^ Michael Najjar, netropolis, Berlin 2006
  11. ^ The New York Times: Michael Najjar. Markets and Mountains, With Dangerous Peaks, 18 April 2010
  12. ^ Wallpaper: Michael Najjar. Case Studies, February 2012
  13. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Freddy Langer: Michael Najjar. Von Höhen und Tiefen, 8 March 2012
  14. ^ Kunstforum International, Issue 237/2015
  15. ^ The Sense of Movement. When Artists Travel, Ostfildern, 2015
  16. ^ Lukas Feireiss, Memories of the Moon Age, Leipzig 2015
  17. ^ Andreas Beitin: A Question of Perspective, in: Michael Najjar - outer space, Berlin 2014
  18. ^ Financial Times Weekend: Jamie Waters, Snapshot - liquid gravity (2013) by Michael Najjar, 6/7 June 2015
  19. ^ El País Semanal, Un artista en el espacio, April 2, 2016
  20. ^ The Wall Street Journal: Andy Battaglia, Space Art - Photographer Trains for the Final Frontier, New York, March 31, 2016
  21. ^ Smithsonian Magazine: Marissa Fessenden, An Artist Imagines the Future of Humans in Space, March 24, 2016
  22. ^ Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin: Till Krause, Michael Najjar - All Inklusive, January 31, 2014
  23. ^ Lukas Feireiss, Michael Najjar, Planetary Echoes. Exploring the implications of human settlement in space, Leipzig 2017
  24. ^ Michael Najjar - outer space, Distanz, Berlin 2014
  25. ^ Monopol Magazin, Elke Buhr, Die Private Weltraumkabsel: Künstler gestaltet Space Suite in Züricher Hotel, 2015
  26. ^ http://www.europeanhoteldesignawards.com/shortlist/

External links[edit]