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Subject:

CAE - request to sign open letter of protest

From:

Eric Kluitenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Eric Kluitenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 4 Jun 2004 16:47:40 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (124 lines)

Helsinki / Amsterdam, June 4, 2004

Dear friends and colleagues,


We are sure that many of you have been following the deeply worrying
events around the subpoenas that have been serfed to members of the
US-based arts collective Critical Art Ensemble. We, Amanda McDonald
Crowley and Eric Kluitenberg, have taken the initiative to write an
open letter of protest asking for an immediate cesation of legal
proceedings against our esteemed and distinguished colleagues. We
think that this case signals a most worrysome trend in public
political life in the United States and cannot be left unaddressed.

We ask all of you who have worked with the Critical Art Ensemble in
recent years, and others who feel offended by this unacceptable
infringement on artistic freedom, to contact us to sign this letter
of protest as members of a deeply concerned professional community.

Please find the letter below. if you wish to sign send us an e-mail
stating your name, your profession, your institutional affiliation
(if you have one) and possibly a url that best represents your work
or professional activity.

Thank you.

Amanda McDonald Crowley
[log in to unmask]

Eric Kluitenberg
[log in to unmask]



----------------


To whom it may concern,

We, the undersigned artists, curators, critics, cultural producers,
theorists and writers who have worked with or followed the work of
the collective known as Critical Art Ensemble, are writing to express
our serious concern over legal proceedings brought against members of
this highly respected artists group.

Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) is a collective of internationally
recognised artists who work within pedagogic frameworks and art
contexts to raise awareness of a range of social issues. Most
recently their work has been directed towards providing the general
public with awareness and understanding of issues to do with
biological research. Their work is not alarmist but rather provides
knowledge.

CAE's work is always undertaken in a safe and considered way, using
materials which are commonly available in scientific education and
research practices. Their main motivation is to provide the public
with the tools needed to make informed choices.

It has come to our attention that there was a recent seizure of a
substantial amount of the artists' work and research material. The
international art scene was shocked and surprised to learn that the
US Federal Bureau of Investigation, following an analysis of the
materials by the Commissioner of Public Health for New York State
which returned the result that the material seized posed no public
safety risk, have continued with their investigation and are now
seeking to charge members of the collective under the US Biological
Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act as expanded by the USA Patriot Act.

Whilst it is perhaps understandable in the current international
political climate that such research might raise alarm bells with
American authorities, it would have also been clear, upon
investigation, that the aims of CAE are not a terrorist act, but an
awareness raising action undertaken with cultural, artistic and
educational agendas. Indeed CAE's work is quite in keeping with
mainstream art practices, which have, throughout history, had
pedagogical aims.

Having worked with CAE in various settings throughout the world we
havefound CAE's approach has always been to understand and to know
the topicthat they are presenting. It comes as no surprise, given
the current focusof their work, that the research tools included
biological material.However, those of us in the art world who have
worked with this artists'group also know that their work is
undertaken with thorough research, incontinuous consultation with
members of the scientific community, in orderto ensure that the
artworks they produce are safe, but also real, in termsof the
investigations they pursue. The work of CAE is
internationallyrecognised as thorough, investigative, educative and
safe.

This matter is one that raises serious concerns internationally that
theactions of the American government undermine the freedom of
artisticexpression, a fundamental democratic right, which is one of
the cornerstones of the liberal democracies.

As the materials have been tested and been shown to pose no public
healththreat, we demand that the American Government immediately
cease legalaction against members of the Critical Art Ensemble
collective.

The good reputation of Critical Art Ensemble must be immediately restored.

Yours faithfully,


Amanda McDonald Crowley,
cultural worker/ curator, currently executive producer ISEA2004
(International Symposium of Electronic Art 2004),
Australia/Finland
http://www.isea2004.net


Eric Kluitenberg
Head of the Media Program
De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
http://www.debalie.nl



Signatories:

name/profession/position/country/url

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