anna moreno 2016
Creative Commons License

The Barnum Effect

Project series

The Barnum Effect uses traveling concepts between art and economy to investigate how belief determines behaviour. Based on Phineas Taylor Barnum’s book The Art of Money Getting (1880), the project consists of a series of works, each one of them taking the title from one of the 20 chapters of the book. This chapters take the form of commandments and give tips for succeeding in business. Barnum was an American businessman considered to be the first show business millionaire. Today, he would be called a prankster, but in his time, he was regarded as one of the most influential people in his country.

The project departs from a psychological theory named after Barnum, the Barnum effect, which explains how individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This project triggers the Barnum effect between the world of business-making and art, by shifting the context of these commandments allowing the viewer to choose whether to feel identified with them or not.

The outcomes that The Barnum Effect takes are varied, always focusing on the performative qualities of lectures, video and installations, ranging from extended projects like Select the Right Location to simple objectual gestures like Don't Mistake Your Vocation.

The Barnum Effect has been supported by:

Atelierhaus Salzamt
bb15 Raum für Gegenwartskunst
Torre Muntadas
Seoul Art Space Geumcheon
Fundación Cajamadrid (Generación 2014 Prize)
CONCA Consell Nacional de la Cultura i les Arts
Stroom Den Haag