From New York to Beijing, countless strangers dash across city streets in a constant state of frenzy, rushing to their destinations. But every now and then we see someone pause, marveling at his or her surroundings. It is this stillness that Serge Najjar seeks, with one simple guideline, “It is not about what you see but how you see it.”
Five years ago Najjar started photographing the interaction of people and architecture in his native Beirut. Influenced by the work of Kazimir Malevich, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, and Alexander Rodchenko, Najjar took to the streets, focusing his lens on daily routines: construction workers sitting on a building ledge during lunch break, the sharp lines of a high-rise facade, a man looking out an open window, and children sitting on a windowsill. Whether working in Beirut, Munich or other places he visits, Najjar’s vision is unwavering - to show other people what they may not see themselves. As he states:
“There is no such thing as an ideal place to photograph, or an ideal city. Architecture inspires me, but my whole approach towards photography is to focus on what people consider as common... the people I photograph are complete strangers. I never plan where I go and what or who to shoot. My images are faithful to what I see. And every single Saturday morning I am convinced that I will never capture the picture I had the chance to capture the week before…. It is a thin line between the ugly and the beautiful, the ordinary and the extraordinary, between chaos and order.“
A Closer Look at the Ordinary celebrates the powerful relationship between man and architecture. Through quiet photographs, Serge Najjar creates a dialogue about city living, and the stillness that can exist, if we slow down and focus on the ordinary.