[spectre] International Support Letter for Steven Kurtz / CAE

mollybh at netspace.net.au mollybh at netspace.net.au
Wed Jun 2 11:16:42 CEST 2004

Hi, Eric and Barbara, 
I had thought we might start, considering the networked properties of the CAE 
work and probability that we had read their writings and books and had them on 
our shelves...that we could start a site or a list of artists who claim also 
to be collaborators! How many people can those m*th*rs work on at once? :')

Quoting Barbara Lattanzi <threads at wildernesspuppets.net>:

> Hello Eric.
> I think that you are right on target with the initiative you suggest.
> I also suggest that many more people linking to the biotech materials on 
> the CAE website, plus absorbing deeply and spreading understanding of and 
> enthusiasm for CAE's work - like a seeds in the wind - will be the most 
> effective gesture of all.
> http://www.critical-art.net/
> Barbara Lattanzi
> www.wildernesspuppets.net
> At 05:32 PM 6/1/2004, you wrote:
> >Dear friends,
> >
> >Is anybody already working on a support letter for Steven Kurtz?
> >
> >Maybe we orverlooked the most obvious way to help at this point, which is 
> >to provide an international letter, signed by a list of internationally 
> >acclaimed curators, writers, critics, artists, and anybody else out there 
> >who has a direct and professional relationship to the work of Steven Kurtz 
> >and the Critical Art Ensemble.
> >
> >More information on the support campaign can at this point be found at the 
> >following web page:
> >http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/
> >
> >How do we write the letter - do we circulate a draft letter publically, or 
> >in small committee?
> >
> >Best wishes,
> >
> >Eric Kluitenberg
> >De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam
> >http://www.debalie.nl
> >
> >
> >------------------
> >
> >
> >May 25, 2004
> >
> >Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism
> >Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body
> >
> >
> >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 'analysis.'"
> >
> >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.
> >
> >To make a donation, please visit http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/
> >
> >For more information on the Critical Art Ensemble, please visit
> >http://www.critical-art.net/
> >
> >Articles about the case:
> >http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/news-WKBW-2.html
> >http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/news-WKBW.html
> >
> >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>.
> >
> >______________________________________________
> >SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
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