[Marxism] July5: Art is Not Terrorism

Ben Halligan B.Halligan at yorksj.ac.uk
Mon Jun 21 11:43:21 MDT 2004


Benefit to Raise funds for the LEGAL DEFENCE of Steve Kurtz  and Members

Barry Schwabsky and Warren Neidich with the Arts Catalyst, invite you to
Benefit in aid of Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble

When:  Monday 5th July 2004, from 18 -21 hours.
Where:  Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London E1 6LS

Minimum donation: 24 British Sterling
RSVP to: The Arts Catalyst on 020 7375 3690 or info at artscatalyst.org *

We can accept cash or cheques only (payable to The Arts Catalyst),
on the door or to The Arts Catalyst at the above address. If you are
unable to attend but would like to make a 
donation, please do so either direct to
the defence fund - http://www.caedefensefund.org - or by sending a
to Arts Catalyst.  24 British Sterling is the minimum donation however
amounts larger then this if your heart desires. The Arts Catalyst is a
charitable arts organization (charity number: 1042433).

Everyone deserves a fair trial and proper legal council.

American legal fees are exorbitant and mounting his defence could
financially ruin Steve Kurtz for life.  There is an international
to raise funds for his defence costs.  See http://www.caedefensefund.org


Background information and what we are trying to defend:

Steve Kurtz, a professor of art and member of the group Critical Art
Ensemble, was indicted yesterday on charges of bioterrorism.  This
chargehas arisen because of his artistic activities with Critical Art
Ensemble, whose work operates at the margins where biotechnology its
methods of production meets its forms of distribution and involves the
use of
simple biological equipment and supplies. Critical Art Ensemble have
created many seminal exhibitions and installations in the past decade
where this equipment was clearly shown in the public setting without
problems. Now as a result of the Patriot Act this very same equipment is
being used as evidence against him and his organization. Art and Artists
have an important role to play beyond the production of aesthetic
and this work fits into a whole genre of work labeled the Institutional
Critique in which the institutions themselves and their methods become
subjects of artistic and critical interventions.

"This case raises issues of freedom of speech."

Steve 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, a group "dedicated to
exploring the intersections between art, technology, radical politics
critical theory".  Critical Art Ensemble's work in recent years has
focused on a critique of biotechnology.  Most recently, the group was
preparing a work about bio-terrorism.

Critical Art Ensemble's artists are at a loss to explain the
bizarre case. "I have no idea why they're continuing (to investigate),"
said Beatriz da Costa. "It was shocking that this investigation was ever
launched. That it is continuing is positively frightening, and shows how
vulnerable the PATRIOT Act has made freedom of speech in this country."
Costa is an art professor at the University of California at Irvine. The
FBI is charging Kurtz under Section 175 of the US Biological Weapons
Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which has been expanded by the USA PATRIOT
Act. As expanded, this law prohibits the possession of "any biological
agent, toxin, or delivery system" without the justification of
"prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful

Even under the expanded powers of the USA PATRIOT Act, it is difficult
understand how anyone could view CAE's art as anything other than
a"peaceful purpose."

American legal fees are exorbitant and mounting his defence could
financially ruin Steve Kurtz for life.  There is an international
to raise funds for his defence costs.  See http://www.caedefensefund.org
Further details:

What happened to Steve Kurtz?

Early morning of May 11, Steve Kurtz awoke to find his wife, Hope, dead
a cardiac arrest. Kurtz called 911. The police arrived and, after
stumbling across test tubes and petri dishes Kurtz was using in a
artwork, called in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Soon agents from the Task Force and FBI detained Kurtz, cordoned off the
entire block around his house, and later impounded Kurtz's computers,
manuscripts, books, equipment, and even his wife's body for further
analysis. The Buffalo Health Department condemned the house as a health

Only after the Commissioner of Public Health for New York State had
samples from the home and announced there was no public safety threat
Kurtz able to return home and recover his wife's body. Yet the FBI would
not release the impounded materials, which included artwork for an
upcoming exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

While most observers assumed the Task Force would realize that its
investigation of Steve Kurtz was a terrible mistake, the subpoenas
indicate that the feds have instead chosen to press their "case" against
Kurtz and possibly others. What is the violation he is suspected of?
Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 10  Sec. 175. - Prohibitions with respect to
biological weapons

(a) In General. -
Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers,
acquires,retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery
system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists 
a foreign state or any organization
to do so, or attempts, threatens, or conspires to do the same, shall be
fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or
both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense
this section committed by or against a national of the United States.

(b) Additional Offense. -
Whoever knowingly possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery
system of a type or in a quantity that, under the circumstances, is not
reasonably justified by a prophylactic, protective, bona fide research,
other peaceful purpose, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not
more than 10 years, or both. In this subsection, the terms ''biological
agent'' and ''toxin'' do not encompass any biological agent or toxin
is in its naturally occurring environment, if the biological agent or
toxin has not been cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from
natural source.

(c) Definition. -
For purposes of this section, the term ''for use as a weapon'' includes
the development, production, transfer, acquisition, retention, or
possession of any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for other
than prophylactic, protective [1] bona fide research, or other peaceful

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