What is art? (And what is bioterror?) The outrageous case of Steve Kurtz, the Buffalo, NY, artist who'll likely be charged under the Patriot Act for possessing harmless bacteria and lab equipment (part of his work with Critical Art Ensemble), continues to get ignored by major media outlets. Look for my new Adbusters feature on the case, and consider donating to his defense fund. An excerpt:
Critical Art Ensemble is an internationally recognized art group that explores “the intersections between art, technology, radical politics, and critical theory.” The biotechnology industry it has chosen to address in recent years contributes overwhelmingly to Republican candidates—nearly three-quarters of its $25.8 million in donations to date went to the GOP. The installation at MASSMOCA was to include a DNA extractor that would test food from the local supply for transgenic contamination. “There is no legal way to stop huge corporations from putting genetically altered material in our food,” says CAE spokeswoman Carla Mendes. “Yet owning the equipment required to test for the presence of ‘Frankenfood’ will get you accused of ‘terrorism.’”

Whether Kurtz’s story is a case of post-9/11 paranoia or a move intended to silence outspoken artists will probably never be known, but if it ends up in court, it will raise broader issues about free expression in John Ashcroft’s America. Artist Greg Sholette says Kurtz’s “art itself is going to be up on trial. Critical Art Ensemble has a strong tradition of critiquing capitalism and pushing the edges through its art, but always within constitutional boundaries.” Those boundaries, too, might be on trial: recall that it was Bush, who in 1999, reacted to a spoof site created by the conceptual art collective ®™ark by declaring, “There ought to be limits to freedom.”
Also: Thanks to Paul Shoebridge, the home page now has a pull-down index that features all of my art-related pieces (see "More art activism").

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