Jamie Dimon: Before The Nation Went Bankrupt
Live Performance Description
On Friday September 12, 2008 the CEOs of America's largest banks were summoned to the Federal Reserve in Lower Manhattan to prevent the unwinding of the economy. Little is known about what happened that weekend at the Fed. Until now.
“Jamie Dimon: Before the Nation Went Bankrupt” is a solo multimedia lecture performance that tells the story of the 2008 financial crisis through the semi-fictional love letters of JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
The performance humorously presents a more libidinal version of the events of one seminal weekend of the crisis, where the CEOs of the biggest banks were summoned for a weekend conference at the Federal Reserve in Lower Manhattan. It speculates on the mindset of this cynical bunch who pulled the economy back from the precipice, much to their benefit. The performance uses cringe inducing satire of those bankers, and Dimon in particular, to expose the metaphoric creep of neoliberal ideology into all areas of life.
The letters are based in truth, many of the details of the weekend are facts. At times the letters in the performance expand into conjecture to lay bare some of the contradictory myths of late capitalism. Dimon is the perfect foil; vain, desperate to be liked by all, and yet immensely powerful. As this power teeters at the edge of oblivion, he has time to reflect on the roots of his brand of capitalism; from the enlightenment, to colonial rule and to present day machine run markets. The letters in the performance are a cry in the dark from the insular world of high finance that continue to bring us all to the brink of financial, physical and moral ruin.
The performance blurs the line between subject and performer. As the Jamie Dimon onstage wrestles with the abstractions in his life, the composed tone of the performance unhinges. The abstractions of the economy have begun to unravel and are having disastrous effects in real life. At the same time, the abstracted distance from which Dimon has lived his personal life and formed his opinions of the world is also collapsing. As his world implodes, a white man in a suit, confidently assured of his place at the center of attention, begins to unwind.
Video Excerpt: Introduction
Live Performance Excerpt: Letter To Lover #1
Live Performance excerpt: Letter to Daughter Julia
Live Performance (Full) Dixon Place, NYC August 2015
Performer: Nathaniel Sullivan, single performer
Running Time: 45 minutes - 1 hour (variable)
Visuals: projector and wall or screen. Video feed run from Quicktime on laptop.
Sound: One microphone (either handheld or clip on), PA system running sound from laptop and mixing with vocals.
Room: Dimensions very adaptable; I have performed this piece in theatrical settings for 125 people and in smaller gallery spaces with folding chairs set up for 20. Either set up works.
SLA307, New York, NY
IPPE Conference, Berlin, Germany
Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA
Kresge Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Performancy Forum, Brooklyn, NY
Dixon Place, New York, NY
Prelude Festival, New York, NY
Sunview Luncheonette, Brooklyn, NY
Spark!, Syracuse, NY
Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival, Brooklyn NY
Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, NY
Detailed Performance Summary
While being held at the Federal Reserve, Jamie Dimon writes letters to lovers, family and colleagues. He gives a blow by blow account of a seminal weekend in the financial crisis, a precipice for the neoliberal order.
On Saturday morning, Dimon writes a much younger lover and compares the CEOs of America's largest banks to high school archetypes.
Next, he writes to his daughter expressing his concern that the neoliberal order might be over. The market has become machine run. He feels his world slipping away, his loss self engineered.
On Saturday evening, Dimon writes a co-worker / lover and tries to come up with a metaphor to describe capitalism. Is it the skyscraper? Evolution? He concludes that the enduring metaphor for capital in the 21st century is masturbation.
Willing to face his fears, Jamie writes a love letter to an algorithm. He tries to relate to a money making machine that he loves, but ultimately one who doesn't have a body and operates outside of perceptible time. In the middle of the night, Dimon gives in to an onanistic impulse. He descends into madness, a personal hell that is being actualized in the futures markets.
After a wretched night, Jamie Dimon wants to come home. In a bid for a second chance, he runs his love for his wife through a risk pricing model. He insists that he did not have sex with their maid.
In the next instant, Dimon writes the maid, lusting after her. He wonders about the notion of privilege that all the college kids are talking about. What the hell is white privilege supposed to be? He's Greek. He compares their love to his newly acquired Gauguin paintings.
Early Monday morning, the dust settles. There is a bailout in the works. Everything is going to be fine for Jamie Dimon and men like him. The bailout means that risk has been socialized, yet profit remains private. Writing to his Co-Head of Investment Banking, Dimon imagines that the economy is like a garden, a perfect cultivation meant to serve him and designed to suit his desires and passions.
"Bill, isn't this the kind of risk climate we have been dreaming about for centuries?"