[Marxism] Re: kurtz

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jun 7 12:30:11 MDT 2004

Peter McLaren wrote:
>  Announcement:
>  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
>      Terrorism."
>      We strongly encourage everyone to read the full announcement and
>      to support Steve Kurtz and the Critical Art Ensemble.
>      Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors

NY Times, June 7, 2004
Use of Bacteria in Art Leads to Federal Inquiry

BUFFALO, June 6 - The F.B.I. agents in hazardous-material suits are gone 
from Steven Kurtz's house here.

He has buried his wife, Hope, whom Mr. Kurtz, an art professor at the 
University of Buffalo, found dead in their home last month. But the 
attention of federal investigators, drawn after his wife's death to Mr. 
Kurtz and the tools of his unusual means of artistic expression, has not 

Civil liberties advocates and supporters of Mr. Kurtz say the case is a 
matter of the authorities' misdirecting post-Sept. 11 investigative zeal 
and in the process, trampling First Amendment rights to artistic 
expression. Fellow members of his art ensemble, which describes itself 
as "dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, 
radical politics and critical theory,'' call it frightening.

On May 11, Mr. Kurtz phoned 911 after waking to find Hope Kurtz, 45, his 
wife of 20 years, unresponsive. One of the paramedics who arrived at the 
Kurtz home noticed laboratory equipment used in Mr. Kurtz's artwork. 
That observation triggered a series of events that led to F.B.I. agents 
shuffling through the home in hazardous-material suits and confiscating 
the equipment and biological material. They also carted off his books, 
personal papers and computer.

The authorities searched the house for two days before announcing that 
there was no public health risk and that no toxic material had been 
found. Mr. Kurtz was allowed to return home on May 17, and his wife's 
death was attributed by the authorities to heart failure.

An F.B.I. spokesman, Paul Moskal, referred all questions to the United 
States attorney's office in Buffalo. William J. Hochul Jr., the lead 
terrorism prosecutor for the office, declined to comment on the case, 
citing Justice Department policy regarding current investigations.

Mr. Kurtz, 46, is not talking to reporters, either. His fellow artists 
and his lawyer are speaking on his behalf.

"No one likes the whole force of the whole federal government to come 
down around their shoulders," said Mr. Kurtz's lawyer, Paul J. Cambria, 
who represented Larry Flynt, the Hustler magazine publisher, in his 
Supreme Court case over censorship. "He feels he's being unfairly 
treated and would like it all to be over."

But members of the art collective Mr. Kurtz founded, the Critical Art 
Ensemble, say it is far from over.

A member of the collective, Beatriz da Costa, an art professor at the 
University of California, Irvine, said she was leaving her hotel to 
attend an art show in North Adams, Mass., last Sunday when a stranger 
called out to her.

"I heard someone say my name," she said. "I turned around and an F.B.I. 
agent was there and served me with the subpoena." She was summoned to 
appear before a federal grand jury in Buffalo on June 15.

Ensemble members heard reports that F.B.I. agents had questioned museum 
curators and administrators at university art departments with 
connections to the group. The group produces Web sites, books and 
touring shows and orchestrates 1960's-style "happenings," aimed at 
showing the impact of technology and its representation on modern life.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/07/nyregion/07buffalo.html


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