[Marxism] Support Steve Kurtz and the Critical ArtEnsemble

Ben Halligan B.Halligan at yorksj.ac.uk
Wed Jun 2 13:20:55 MDT 2004


        *** Visit CTHEORY Online: http://www.ctheory.net ***

 Announcement      04/06/01     Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

 Support Steve Kurtz and the Critical Art Ensemble

     Dear CTheory Readers,

     We recently received the following news which is really
     disturbing in terms of civil rights and artistic freedom in the
     present political climate spawned by the so-called "War on

     We strongly encourage everyone to read the full announcement and
     to support Steve Kurtz and the Critical Art Ensemble.

     Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors


 Dr. Steven Kurtz, professor of art at SUNY Buffalo and members of
 the Critical Arts Ensemble are facing indictment at a grand jury
 trial in Buffalo, NY, June 15.  The FBI is bringing bioterrorism
 charges against the group for possession of a biotechnology lab found
 at Kurtz's home.  Thus, the group will incur gigantic legal fees and
 face imprisonment. 

 Dr. Kurtz and CAE are internationally recognized lecturers in the
 areas of biotechnology, information technology and media studies. 
 Their work has always been anti-terrorist, that is, against fear as a
 cultural detriment to discussion. For more information and
 support, see:


 Louis Hillman


 May 25, 2004

 Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism
 Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body

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      |    For donations contact: CAEdefense at rtmark.com    |
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 Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911
 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac
 arrest and died in her sleep. The police arrived and, cranked up on
 the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies
 were actually bioterrorism weapons.

 Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted
 Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated
 his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

 Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland
 imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's
 case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act
 coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

 Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is
 facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can
 be made at http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/


 Steve Kurtz is Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the
 State University of New York's University at Buffalo, and a member of
 the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble.

 Kurtz's wife, Hope Kurtz, died in her sleep of cardiac arrest in the
 early morning hours of May 11. Police arrived, became suspicious of
 Kurtz's art supplies and called the FBI.

 Within hours, FBI agents had "detained" Kurtz as a suspected
 bioterrorist and cordoned off the entire block around his house.
 (Kurtz walked away the next day on the advice of a lawyer, his
 "detention" having proved to be illegal.) Over the next few days,
 dozens of agents in hazmat suits, from a number of law enforcement
 agencies, sifted through Kurtz's work, analyzing it on-site and
 impounding computers, manuscripts, books, equipment, and even his
 wife's body for further analysis. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Health
 Department condemned his house as a health risk.

 Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, makes art which
 addresses the politics of biotechnology. "Free Range Grains," CAE's
 latest project, included a mobile DNA extraction laboratory for
 testing food products for possible transgenic contamination. It was
 this equipment which triggered the Kafkaesque chain of events.

 FBI field and laboratory tests have shown that Kurtz's equipment was
 not used for any illegal purpose. In fact, it is not even possible to
 use this equipment for the production or weaponization of dangerous
 germs. Furthermore, any person in the US may legally obtain and
 possess such equipment.

 "Today, there is no legal way to stop huge corporations from putting
 genetically altered material in our food," said Defense Fund
 spokeswoman Carla Mendes. "Yet owning the equipment required to test
 for the presence of 'Frankenfood' will get you accused of
 'terrorism.' You can be illegally detained by shadowy government
 agents, lose access to your home, work, and belongings, and find that
 your recently deceased spouse's body has been taken away for

 Though Kurtz has finally been able to return to his home and recover
 his wife's body, the FBI has still not returned any of his equipment,
 computers or manuscripts, nor given any indication of when they will.
 The case remains open.


 A small fortune has already been spent on lawyers for Kurtz and other
 Critical Art Ensemble members. A defense fund has been established at
 http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/ to help defray the legal costs
 which will continue to mount so long as the investigation continues.
 Donations go directly to the legal defense of Kurtz and other
 Critical Art Ensemble members. Should the funds raised exceed the
 cost of the legal defense, any remaining money will be used to help
 other artists in need.

 For more information on the Critical Art Ensemble, please visit

 Articles about the case:

 On advice of counsel, Steve Kurtz is unable to answer questions
 regarding his case. Please direct questions or comments to Carla
 Mendes <CAEdefense at rtmark.com>.


 * CTHEORY is an international journal of theory, technology and
 *    culture. Articles, interviews, and key book reviews in
 *    contemporary discourse are published weekly as well as
 *    theorisations of major "event-scenes" in the mediascape.
 * Editors: Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
 * Editorial Board: Jean Baudrillard (Paris), Paul Virilio (Paris),
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 *   Pfohl (Boston), Andrew Ross (NYC), David Cook (Toronto), Ralph
 *   Melcher (Sante Fe), Shannon Bell (Toronto), Gad Horowitz
 *   (Toronto), Andrew Wernick (Peterborough).
 * In Memory: Kathy Acker
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 *   Maurice Charland (Canada) Steve Gibson (Canada/Sweden).
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