PERFORMANCE CAPITALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS
KATIE GRACE MCGOWAN
An unprecedented 62,000 properties were flagged for foreclosure in Detroit in 2015. Subsequently some 35,000+ homeowners secured their property through payment plans with the county. Nonetheless, the number of homes in the 2015 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction made it the largest auction of its kind in U.S. history.
The media blitz celebrating cheap housing and opportunity in Detroit following the financial crisis willfully ignored the human cost of such conditions and ushered in a new era of class and race division in the city. “Performance Capitalism and Its Discontents” sought to raise questions about economic sustainability in a city struggling to heal.
The performance consisted of reflections on my invisible theatre research into the high stakes world of real estate development in Detroit and New York City. Formatted as first-person reportage meets standup comedy, the piece offered insight and anecdotes gathered over a two year period working as a consultant to, and participant observer of, real estate developers. Switching between scripted deliberations and improvised storytelling, the aim was to address some of the business’s moral ambiguities.