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16 Oct 2009

Michael Najjar at bitforms gallery nyc

hangseng_80-09, 2008-2009
hybrid photography
lightjet-print, custom aluminum frame
52 x 79.5 in / 132 x 202 cm
edition of 6

Michael Najjar: high altitude


Sep 18 - Oct 24, 2009

+1 212 366 6939
+1 212 366 6959

529 w. 20th st.
ny, ny 10011

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bitforms gallery is pleased to announce a third solo exhibition with German photographic artist Michael Najjar and the world premiere of his 'high altitude' work series.

In this body of work, Najjar continues to weld fact and fiction. Exploring vocabulary of the romantic sublime, including paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, and informed by the artist's own climb up to the 22,800 foot summit of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, 'high altitude' features breathtaking panoramas. Picturing spaces in society driven by networked financial data, these virtual landscapes are a meditation on the global market structure, its sophistication, and vulnerability.

The spectacle of elemental forces at play in mountainous vistas has been an enduring source of fascination for people, and especially artists, across the ages. Relating a parable of risk and cataclysm, Michael Najjar's nine large format photographs draw a visual comparison between the forces of nature and those in the modern economy driven by computer networks. Cliff and rock formations in these sweeping horizons portray development of the world's leading stock exchange indices over the past 20 - 30 years. Like a graph or blueprint, Najjar suspends the performance charts of indices such as the Dow Jones, Hang Seng, Nikkei and Dax over the mountain peaks, and then alters the natural course of each mountain range. Pairing pure natural beauty with the development of the global financial system, a virtual value system is mapped.

'The current economic crisis has dramatically highlighted one thing in particular - that we now often deal not with real goods and commodities but with chains of signifiers' says Michael Najjar. The irrational - something which defies our powers of imagination - in turn shapes the reality of our daily lives. In this way a symbiosis is created between reality and virtuality. The expressive power of mountains and stock markets share certain aspects in common. Both have an emotional force; they can awaken feelings of happiness (reaching the summit, windfalls from speculation), yet they also carry components of risk within them (injuries, losses). Both have the power to destroy lives. This is most strikingly revealed in the work entitled 'Lehmann Brothers_92-08' which shows how the high degree of complexity in our present-day virtual world can lead to a total system crash. The shared course climbs and climbs, and ends abruptly - leaving only emptiness and the sloping mountain plateau behind.

The work series is based on the photographs Najjar shot during his three week expedition up Mount Aconcagua in the Argentinean Andes whose summit he reached in January 2009. At 22,800 feet, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. According to Najjar, 'The reality of nature and the life rhythm of a mountain cannot be measured on any human scale and thus becomes a virtual experience. Such experience of virtuality can also be found on the international economic and financial markets where the staggeringly large sums of money circulating the globe in real time defy our powers of comprehension.'

For images and press requests please contact or call 212 366 6939.

Directions to bitforms gallery nyc:
Nearest subway is the C/E to 23rd St in Chelsea. Gallery is between 10th and 11th ave.

bitforms gallery nyc is devoted to emerging and established artists who embrace new media and contemporary art practices.