As the artist Michael Najjar (b. Landau, 1966; lives and works in Berlin) reaches the summit of Mount Aconcagua, Argentina, in 2009, he is overwhelmed by a vision: he will fly to space. In the near future, Najjar, one of Germany’s most renowned photographers, will head for outer space in the SpaceshipTwo, a spacecraft currently under development. His eyes firmly set on his goal, the artist utterly dedicates himself to his series outer space, which is based on photographs and video pieces. His work is supported by scientists at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Centre) 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.
The book offers insights into Najjar’s preparations for his spaceflight and presents the first cycle of works from the outer space series. 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.