EFFICIENT FRONTIER is an exhibition consisting of new and historical works by Michael Assiff, Gretchen Bender, Ethan Breckenridge, Ashley Carter, Lea Cetera, Peter Nagy, Ariane Schick, Josh Tonsfeldt and Philip Vanderhyden. Efficient Frontier maps the evolution of modern corporate civilization through the work of two generations of contemporary artists whose practices employ hybridized media including video, sculpture, photography, painting, and performance.
In modern financial management theory, an efficient frontier is a concept for organizational logic that allows for the balance of risk and reward to be tweaked, adjusting it to the desired risk tolerance of each specific client or portfolio. It was introduced by Harry Markowitz in 1952 and remains a cornerstone of modern finance.
The 21st Century is proving to be a strange new world; one in which our bodies are merging with corporate thought and technology, transforming and manipulating daily living into something as pixelated and hallucinatory as it is bound by flesh and bone. Gretchen Bender, Peter Nagy and their circle of post-
appropriation artists were, in many ways, first responders to the neoliberal policies that were developed in the late 1970’s and aggressively implemented under the Reagan and Thatcher administrations. Today the status and rights of corporate entities have been raised to well over and above the level of individuals. Ordinary citizens must increasingly recognize and assert themselves in the context of professional vernacular—self-formulated as “brands”— and enthusiastically surrender personal privacy, and data, in the basic pursuit of community, recognition and living wages.
Seen metaphorically, the words “efficient” and “frontier” aptly connote the contradictory condition we as a society find ourselves in. Frontiers, like art, suggest excitement, risk, experimentation, and ultimately hope—anything but efficiency. Forced into coexistence, Efficient Frontier dreams of the endless possibility of unchartered territories, in a world where culture and its dynamics are increasingly nullified by the mundane violence of corporate objectives.