I haven't seen any such letter but I think it's a great idea and I
already want to sign it. I vote for a draft letter by small committee so
that it will happen quickly to get it out ASAP to as many people as
possible for signing. I was at the Interventionists exhibit this weekend
where CAE had a description of the events that took place. Most patrons
were appalled. Some believed that it was simply not true. It's very
important that this event be circulated amongst a wider audience.
From: Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Eric Kluitenberg
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 5:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: International Support Letter for Steven Kurtz / CAE
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?
De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam
May 25, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART
Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism
Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body
DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED
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
FEAR RUN AMOK
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
"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.
HELP URGENTLY NEEDED
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
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
<[log in to unmask]>.