Bright Futures

"Bright Futures" by John Malpede

The performance developed from a business school pep-talk for anxious future quants (financial engineers) and was paired with MIT economist Simon Johnson’s article “The Quiet Coup”, which appeared in the May 2009 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. In “Bright Futures,” performers, Nell Breyer, Tanya Selvaratnam, and Malpede, riffing off iphone notes Malpede took while attending a business school pep-talk, while audience when called on for “their questions,” read portions of Johnson’s article ( a paragraph chosen by each reader from the page of the article that they were given). “Bright Futures” contrasts these narratives, pinpointing the arrogance of Wall Street, it’s business as usual policies, and Johnson’s dark condemnation of the US financial oligarchy. The texts collide unpredictably and offer divergent assessments of our possible financial future.

The project included a live performance and a video installation. At MIT a large-scale collapsing (and re-assembling) house of cards designed by a Visual Arts class was integrated into the performance. Students wrote comments in workshops, which were then presented in conjunction with the performance.

A video installation of the “Bright Futures” performance, was projected on the house of cards for a week in the atrium of The Media Lab building.

“Bright Futures” was also presented in PERFORMA Festival NYC, and at Ohio University and UCLA.