| fw: Critical Art Ensemble onder vuur in VS |
linking - 04.06.2004 23:18
Critical Art Ensemble onder zwaar vuur in de VS /artistieke vrijheid in geding
[bericht in het Nederlands op http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-nl-0406/msg00008.html :
"Critical Art Ensemble onder zwaar vuur in de VS /artistieke vrijheid in geding"
ARTISTS SUBPOENAED IN USA PATRIOT ACT CASE
Update: June 4, 2004 12:40PM EST
SIX SUBPOENAS ISSUED IN FBI CASE AGAINST ARTIST
Yesterday two more individuals were subpoenaed to appear before a Federal Grand Jury on June 15th. Thus far subpoenas have been issued to: Adele Henderson, Chair of the Art Department at UB; Andrew Johnson, Professor of Art at UB; Paul Vanouse, Professor of Art at UB; Beatriz da Costa, Professor of Art at UCI; Steven Barnes, FSU; and Dorian Burr.
ARTISTS SUBPOENAED IN USA PATRIOT ACT CASE
Feds STILL unable to distinguish art from bioterrorism
Grand jury to convene June 15
Three Four Six artists have been served subpoenas to appear before a federal grand jury that will consider bioterrorism charges against a university professor whose art involves the use of simple biology equipment.
The subpoenas are the latest installment in a bizarre investigation in which members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force have mistaken an art project for a biological weapons laboratory (see background). While most observers have assumed that the Task Force would realize the absurd error of its initial investigation of Steve Kurtz, the subpoenas indicate that the feds have instead chosen to press their "case" against the baffled professor.
Two of the subpoenaed artists--Beatriz da Costa and Steve Barnes--are, like Kurtz, members of the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), an artists' collective that produces artwork to educate the public about the politics of biotechnology. They were served the subpoenas by federal agents who tailed them to an art show at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The third artist, Paul Vanouse, is, like Kurtz, an art professor at the University at Buffalo. He has worked with CAE in the past. The fourth, Dorian Burr, is a founding member of CAE. Addtionally, Adele Henderson, the Department Chair at UB, and Andrew Johnson, also a Professor of Art at UB, were issued subpoenas.
The artists involved are at a loss to explain the increasingly bizarre case. "I have no idea why they're continuing (to investigate)," said Beatriz da Costa, one of those subpoenaed. "It was shocking that this investigation was ever launched. That it is continuing is positively frightening, and shows how vulnerable the PATRIOT Act has made freedom of speech in this country." Da Costa is an art professor at the University of California at Irvine.
According to the subpoenas, the FBI is seeking charges under Section 175 of the US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which has been expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act. As expanded, this law prohibits the possession of "any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system" without the justification of "prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose." (See http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/175.html for the 1989 law and http://www.ehrs.upenn.edu/protocols/patriot/sec817.html for its USA PATRIOT Act expansion.)
Even under the expanded powers of the USA PATRIOT Act, it is difficult to understand how anyone could view CAE's art as anything other than a"peaceful purpose." The equipment seized by the FBI consisted mainly of CAE's most recent project, a mobile DNA extraction laboratory to test store-bought food for possible contamination by genetically modified grains and organisms; such equipment can be found in any university's basic biology lab and even in many high schools (see "Lab Tour" at http://www.critical-art.net/biotech/free/ for more details).
The grand jury in the case is scheduled to convene June 15 in Buffalo, New York. Here, the jury will decide whether or not to indict Steve Kurtz on the charges brought by the FBI. A protest is being planned at 9 a.m. on June 15 outside the courthouse at 138 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo.
On advice of counsel, Steve Kurtz is unable to answer questions regarding his case. Please direct questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.