Friday, April 06, 2007

Steve Kurtz Waiting

My friend Jim Fetterley made a video about Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble.



Steve Kurtz Waiting (2006) By Jim Fetterley and Angie Waller | Running Time 15:32

On May 11, Steve Kurtz phoned 911 to report his wife of 20 years was unresponsive. When paramedics came to his house, one of them noticed that Kurtz had laboratory equipment, which he used in his art exhibits. The paramedics reported this to police and the FBI sealed off his house.

Authorities later said that Kurtz's wife had died of "heart failure," but he wasn't allowed to return to his home for two days while the FBI confiscated his equipment, and biological samples. They also carted off his books, personal papers and computer.

The contradiction between the charges for possessing harmful substances and the county health commissioner assessing that no hazardous substances were found in the house leaves only the conclusion - that ideas, when misunderstood or disagreeable, are toxic.

Kurtz is one of the founders of the Critical Art Ensemble, a group whose beginnings in filmmaking over a decade ago have evolved into public performances and videos that educate the public about the politics of biotechnology. All of CAE's museum and public performances
are meant to not only inform the public about the ways their lives are affected by biotechnology, but also to dispel public paranoia that is generated by the media and a lack of understanding.

Steve became the victim of this paranoia, and through the extended powers of the US Patriot Act, he still awaits trial for mail fraud. If found guilty, could face up to twenty years.

"Steve Kurtz Waiting" by Jim Fetterley and Angie Waller is a video portrait of Steve Kurtz during a moment of indefinite anticipation as routine court litigations continue. Through a series casual interviews, Kurtz reveals an admirable calmness, spirited humor and a strong will to continue his role as a cultural producer after months of close surveillance, black vans, continued government scrutiny, and notably in addition to, the mourning of his close partner.

This video premiered in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in a program called "Charged in the Name of Terror: Portraits by Contemporary Artists."

For more info on Steve Kurtz: www.caedefensefund.org
For more info on Critical Art Ensemble: www.critical-art.net
For more info on Angie Waller: www.couchprojects.com

1 comment:

ben meyers said...

You should also check out the recent Critical Art Ensemble book, Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health, which is seen at the end of the video. It goes into much greater depth regarding the social costs of cases like Steve's.