videoSnowcrash Live! at De Balie
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videoArt is not 'Bioterrorism'
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campaignCritical Art Ensemble Defense Fund
linkCritical Art Ensemble Defense Fund
linkEvent page at De Balie, Amsterdam
In a sinister neo-McCarthyite turn of the cards the prosecution of the
renowned artist Steve Kurtz, a core member of the US-based art
collective Critical Art Ensemble and Professor of Art at the University
of Buffalo, still continues after more than 8 months.
On May 11th 2004 Steven Kurtz awoke to find his wife of 27 years dead. After emergency workers arrived, they called in the FBI after finding what they considered to be suspicious items. These items were scientific samples and equipment, including harmless bacteria. Invoking a 1989 bioterrorism law and the Patriot Act, federal agents detained Kurtz for 22 hours and searched his home and office for two days. The FBI confiscated his wife's body, his house, car, equipment, computer, books, writings, correspondence, art projects and other items, even his cat. His house, cat and car were returned after one week, once it was determined that the death of his wife was unrelated to the bacterial matter.
Kurtz was then arraigned and charged in a Federal District Court, not for bioterrorsim but of four counts of 'mail and wire fraud', carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh is also indicted on the same charges.
Harmless laboratory equipment and materials were at first mistakenly considered a public health threat. No such threat ever existed. The continuation of legal proceedings against Steven Kurtz and Robert Ferrell, now suggest a political motivation to the case.
These charges are an attempt to stop CAE's open and public research into the new regimes of biotechnology. This research shown at major museums across the USA and Europe includes work on:
- Genetically modified organisms and food (GMOs)
- the emerging complex of 'Intellectual Property Rights' related to the patenting of DNA sequences, the very building blocks of life
- the science that lies behind the myth and politics of bioweapons
The prosecution of Kurtz and Ferrell, and other scientists creating the crucial public debate on the implications and risks in the fields of biotechnology and life sciences, threaten healthy public discussion of these important scientific and technological developments. Such forms of legal intimidation have unfortunately increased in recent years. They constitute a fundamental threat to the freedom of artistic and academic research and the wider democratisation of vital areas of scientific knowledge.
With this event we call for an immediate cessation of all legal proceedings against Steve Kurtz, Robert Ferrell and the Critical Art Ensemble, and a resumption of a broad debate on the recent advances in the fields of biotechnology and life-sciences in the USA and internationally.
In the presence of Steve Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble collaborator Claire Pentecost, De Balie will stage an extensive benefit concert and performance event on Wednesday February 9th in collaboration with SNOWCRASH - "The Biggest Live Internet Dance Act on Earth".
With live connections to:
Absurde Video Team Straatsburg
Radio Jeleni Praag
Illegal Sound (General D & Longman)
Jitka Charvatova (Skyline)
and our main guests of the evening: Steve Kurtz and Claire Pentecost.
Admission: 5 euro:
The revenues of the evening will be made entirely available to the Critical Art Ensemble Defence Fund to support the legal struggle.
Doors open: 19.30 hrs
This event will be streamed live via the internet @: