The title of Barbora Kleinhamplová’s work Reliable Relationships (2014) is inspired by an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) training advertisement. NLP is a type of coaching used mainly for training managers and is popular in spheres of interpersonal communication aimed primarily at success in business. “Look your partner in the eye for one minute. It’s not an easy task and may seem like a long time,” says the trainer in the video. For her graduation show, Kleinhamplová invited art professionals and business people to participate in a Neuro-Linguistic Programming training at the National Gallery in Prague (Veletržní Palace). Among the unwitting guests she inserted a team of professional performers. The point of departure for this work was the figure of italian mesmeric Marc Pareto. The trainer in the video, not an actual NLP specialist but a pantomime teacher, demonstrates Pareto’s method of “hypnotic fascination.” This consists of aggressive and prolonged eye contact, physical inductions and verbal instructions. This technique is supposed to create an interlocutory collapse, to transform a conscious person into an object. “You too can have success if you know how to use people’s emotions” says the pantomime expert. In this work, Kleinhamplová uses performance and manipulation to reflect on leadership, the paradigm of competitivity and the desire to control inherent in professional corporate milieus of capitalist societies.
Performance by Barbora Kleinhamplová; filmed by Kristýna Bartošová.
Barbora Kleinhamplová’s scripted performances are rooted in the relation between the symbolic role of the body and political and economic institutions. In her work, she borrows concepts and methods from various fields, such as anthropology or biology, and comments on different layers of society. She often creates constructed or staged situations informed by existing formats of group interactions (therapy, coaching session etc.). Her work has been exhibited in the Czech Republic as well as internationally, including the 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016), New Museum (2014), Autocenter Berlin (2014), Astrup Farnley Museet (2014) or Jakarta Biennale (2013). She received a scholarship within the framework of the residency programme of MMCA, Seoul (2015) and Gasworks, London (2016).