07/09/2004: "How did I miss this?"
I'm sure many of you are already aware of this incident but I (world's biggest news junkie) somehow missed it (see related articles in all the major newspapers at:http://www.caedefensefund.org/press.html#print)
I was sent an email today from figurative artist Robert Coane L'atelier who also created the Caramel Award for blunders and Art-rageous attacks against Art and Artists.
It is the story of an art professor at SUNY Buffalo who was arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force under the USA Patriot Act as being a bioterrorist. The short version is this:
Steven Kurtz calls 911 when his wife dies of a heart attack during the night. Police show up at his house and see lab equipment he uses in his performance art critiquing politics and biotechnology for the Critical Art Ensemble and alert the FBI who seal off his block and confiscate everything including his wife's body.
They find that he was using two organisms in his art work that were procured for him by Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health, who was also charged. The thing is, both organisms are completely safe, even used by high school students in biology experiments!
After months of trying to convict Kurtz and Ferrell unsuccessfully as bioterrorists, the charges were recently downgraded to mail fraud, because a $256.00 technicality was discovered relating to how the organisms were shipped. Talk about bullshit.
For those of you unfamiliar with the case, ...start with FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART at the bottom of the page, and work your way up (articles arranged chronologically). The entire series of events are both hilarious and terrifying.