Michael Najjar is one of the most important international photo artists of his generation. In his works he deals in a complex and critical way with the technological developments that are defining and drastically changing the early 21st century. Najjar develops his photographic and video works from an interdisciplinary understanding of art. He combines science, art and technology to create artistic visions and utopias of future social orders emerging under the influence of new technologies.
Born in 1966 in Landau, Germany, from 1988 – 1993 Najjar attended the bildo Akademie für Medienkunst in Berlin. During this time, he immersed himself in the visionary theories of media philosophers such as Vilém Flusser, Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard which still exert a significant influence on his artistic work today. Throughout his extensive oeuvre Najjar continually questions the relationship between reality and simulation.
His works are always underpinned by a conceptual foundation. In building on this, Najjar relies on the overwhelming aesthetic power of his large-format photos and immersive videos which are mainly generated from a digital collage of various content elements and image sources. He expands the potential of the photographic image by subjecting it to a constant reconstruction of time and space. His pictures are at the same time a condensation and construction of reality and thus unfold their visionary power. Only on closer inspection do the underpinning art-historical, technological and scientific backgrounds of the hyperreal image worlds become apparent.
Najjar’s works are grouped in thematic work series. In terms of content, these range from the transformation of global megacities through increasingly dense information networks, the transformation of the human body by means of biogenetic interventions, and the virtualisation of financial markets through intelligent algorithms, to the influence of the latest space technologies on our future in space, and our planetary future in times of climate change and geoengineering. The inspiration for Najjar’s works comes from literature and films but also from his collaboration with scientists and researchers. .For decades now, Najjar has undertaken journeys and expeditions around the globe. He has climbed seven-thousand-metre high peaks, scaled skyscrapers, trekked on erupting volcanoes, crossed glaciers, descended into ice caves, traversed deserts, taken astronaut training, and intends to be the first artist to fly into space. To create his images, Najjar exposes his body to extreme experiences and tests his mental and physical limits in the context of highly complex natural or technological environments.
Since he first began work in the mid-nineties, his art has been shown in numerous international gallery and museum exhibitions as well as at biennials. In 2004, Harald Szeemann showed his work in “The Beauty of Failure / The Failure of Beauty” at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona. In 2006, he was invited to the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale and also exhibited at the 9th Havana Bienniale in the same year. In 2008, the GEM Museum of Contemporary Art in The Hague staged the first comprehensive overview of his work so far. In 2011, he took part in the ground-breaking exhibition “Atlas – How to carry the world on one’s back”, which was shown at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe and the Hamburg Deichtorhallen/Phönixhallen. In 2015, his series “outer space” was shown by Peter Weibel in the revolutionary exhibition “Exo-Evolution” at the ZKM Karlsruhe. In 2017, he was invited by Yuko Hasegawa to participate in the 7th International Moscow Biennale.
Furthermore, Najjar has exhibited in the following national and international museums, institutions and galleries: Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation, Berlin; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Kunsthalle Hamburg / Galerie der Gegenwart, Hamburg; Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; Marta Museum, Herford; Edith Russ Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; Saatchi Gallery, London; Science Museum, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Birmingham; Centre pour l’image contemporaine, Geneva; Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Málaga; Museo Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca; Museo DA2 (Domus Artium 2002), Salamanca; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Tampere Art Museum, Tampere; New Media Art Institute, Amsterdam; FORMA International Centre for Photography, Milan; Museum of Art, Tucson; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Museum of Science, Taipei; Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; ZheJiang Art Museum, Hangzhou; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Art and Science Museum, Singapore.
Michael Najjar’s works can also be found in renowned museum collections worldwide, as well as in corporate and private collections. Numerous international publications are dedicated to his work.