Efremoff is on the forefront of New Media art. He obtained his MFA from the University of Connecticut, and has exhibited all over the United States and abroad in counties including Italy, Germany, and South Korea.
Working in this “new media” is, of course, new and constantly in flux. New Media was pioneered in the 1960s, and modern technology has opened the door to endless possibilities. The very definition of “art” comes into question with these new parameters because of the plastic nature of the medium.
Utilizing the human condition and exploring the behavioral issues of society help to provide context and complexity to his work. Efremoff’s personal statement on his website discusses his ideas:
Spurred by my personal interest in social justice, I envision collaborative activity as a social instrument that builds critical relationships between people. While the process of creating for (and with) others is a challenge, it provides stimulus for discovery and discourse. To facilitate dialogue, I begin by creating situations, spaces, or events that then engage people to question their relationship to the status quo.
Applying this statement to his current work at the NBMAA, Time in Contest with Truth we can appreciate the dialogue he’s facilitated with the juxtaposition of two Frank Benson (1862-1951) paintings, one of which is a forgery. These two works were the center of a controversy because the original had been sold to the Museum, and then years later another (the copy) was sold at a large auction house to a private collector. After being notified of the original sale by Benson’s granddaughter, the new owner became aware that he had purchased a copy, which then launched an investigation into both painting’s authenticity. A whirlwind of issues surrounding each was bounced back and forth.
Their placement on either side of Efremoff’s video installation helps to develop the controversial means behind their existence. A looped table tennis match (performed by local athletes) demonstrates-quite literally-the exchange of ideas between dueling sides. Allusions between the art market, modern society, and the ensuing competition all interrelate to form a contemporary discussion about “art.”
Efremoff incorporates site-specific items with a local context (the paintings in the NBMAA and a Hartford, Connecticut, sports match, for example) to further develop universal ideas and questions about the legitimacy of the art world. New media incorporates technology and modern instances of problems and social issues to further facilitate their principles. By applying these issues to an installation, it allows this dialogue to take place in different contexts, and thus, this medium is in constant flux. Mastering it and being able to manipulate it for artistic expression is difficult. Efremoff does this with a delicacy and ambition that combine to create works like Time in Contest with Truth. His themes stem from both the contemporary and ancient ideas within art, as is made clear by the relation to Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s Time Unveiling Truth (1745-50).
Efremoff’s installation also hints at the fact that the “winners” write the history books, and implies that Truth does not always defeat Time. History books can, as far as Efremoff is concerned, be seen as works of historical fiction in some cases-and not just fact. While his installation for the NBMAA focuses on the contemporary issues of art forgeries in museums, it also has an undercurrent of social justice at its heart.
What do you think of Efremoff’s installation? How does it express the themes discussed above? Do you consider it a contemporary example of the Tiepolo allegory? Why or why not?