Friday, July 4, 2008



Department of Justice Fails to Appeal Dismissal
Kurtz Speaks about Four-Year Ordeal

Buffalo, NY—Dr. Steven Kurtz, a Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY at Buffalo and cofounder of the award-winning art and theater group Critical Art Ensemble, has been cleared of all charges of mail and wire fraud. On April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara dismissed the government’s entire indictment against Dr. Kurtz as “insufficient on its face.” This means that even if the actions alleged in the indictment (which the judge must accept as “fact”) were true, they would not constitute a crime. The US Department of Justice had thirty days from the date of the ruling to appeal. No action has been taken in this time period, thus stopping any appeal of the dismissal. According to Margaret McFarland, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Terrance P. Flynn, the DoJ will not appeal Arcara’s ruling and will not seek any new charges against Kurtz.

For over a decade, cultural institutions worldwide have hosted Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble’s educational art projects, which use common science materials to examine issues surrounding the new biotechnologies. In 2004 the Department of Justice alleged that Dr. Kurtz had schemed with colleague Dr. Robert Ferrell of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to illegally acquire two harmless bacteria cultures for use in one of those projects. The Justice Department further alleged that the transfer of the material from Ferrell to Kurtz broke a material transfer agreement, thus constituting mail fraud.

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the maximum sentence for these charges was increased from five years to twenty years in prison.

Dr. Kurtz has been fighting the charges ever since. In October 2007, Dr. Ferrell pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor charge after recurring bouts of cancer and three strokes suffered since his indictment prevented him from continuing the struggle.

Finally vindicated after four years of struggle, Kurtz, asked for a statement, responded stoically: “I don’t have a statement, but I do have questions. As an innocent man, where do I go to get back the four years the Department of Justice stole from me? As a taxpayer, where do I go to get back the millions of dollars the FBI and Justice Department wasted persecuting me? And as a citizen, what must I do to have a Justice Department free of partisan corruption so profound it has turned on those it is sworn to protect?”

Said Kurtz’s attorney, Paul Cambria, “I am glad an innocent man has been vindicated. Steve Kurtz stared in the face of the federal government and a twenty-year prison term and never flinched, because he believes in his work and his actions were those of a completely innocent man. Clients like him are a blessing, and although I have had many important victories, this one stands at the top of the list.”
As coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, a group organized to support Kurtz from the beginning of the case, Lucia Sommer sees the end of the prosecution as bittersweet, and like Kurtz, is thoughtful about the broader significance of the case: “This ruling is the best possible ending to a horrible ordeal—but we are mindful of numerous cases still pending, and the grave injustices perpetrated by the Bush administration following 9/11. This case was part of a larger picture, in which law enforcement was given expanded powers. In this instance, the Bush administration was unsuccessful in its attempt to erode Americans’ constitutional rights.”

Referring to the international outcry the case provoked, involving fundraisers and protests held on four continents, Sommer said, “ The government has unlimited resources to bring and prosecute these kinds of charges, but the accused often don’t have any resources to defend themselves. This victory could never have happened without the activism of thousands of people. Supporters protested, vocally opposed the prosecution, and refused to let it go on in silence. And without their efforts at fundraising, Kurtz and Ferrell would not have been able to defend themselves from these false accusations.”

Sommer added that the next step for the defense will be to get back all of the materials taken by the FBI during its 2004 raid on the Kurtz home, including several completed art projects, as well as Dr. Kurtz’s lab equipment, computers, books, manuscripts, notes, research materials, and personal belongings. The four confiscated art projects are the subject of an exhibition entitled SEIZED on view at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY, through July 18:

The case originated in May 2004, when Kurtz’s wife Hope died of heart failure as the couple was preparing a project about genetically modified agriculture for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Police who responded to Steve Kurtz’s 911 call deemed the Kurtzes’ art materials suspicious and alerted the FBI. Kurtz explained that the materials (legally and easily obtained basic life science equipment and two harmless bacteria samples) had already been displayed at museums throughout Europe and North America with absolutely no risk to the public. However, the following day, Kurtz was illegally detained for 22 hours on suspicion of bioterrorism, as dozens of agents from the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security, Department of Defense, ATF, and numerous other law enforcement agencies raided his home, seizing his personal and professional belongings. After a federal grand jury refused to charge Kurtz with bioterrorism, Kurtz and Ferrell were indicted on two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud concerning the acquisition of $256 of harmless bacteria for one of Critical Art Ensemble’s educational art projects. (Critical Art Ensemble is the recipient of numerous awards for its projects, including the prestigious 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Grant, in recognition of twenty years of distinguished work:

The Department of Justice brought the charges in spite of the fact that the alleged “victims of fraud”—American Type Culture Collection and the University of Pittsburgh—never filed any charges or complained of any wrongdoing, and the fact that in bringing the charges the Department of Justice was acting completely outside its own Prosecution Policy Relating to Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud (

For more information and extensive documentation, including the Judge’s dismissal, please visit:***

"La palabra de los mudos"

on the 15th of May, in front of a huge audience the action "La palabra de los mudos" was staged in Redondo Beach, in the district of Miraflores, Lima, as the first artistic project of the French-Peruvian artist Jota Castro in Peru after three decades away from his homeland. During the development of the V Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union, Jota Castro carried out this performance, which addressed the limits of communication and the problems concerning inclusion.
Before the event, there was a concentration in Bajada Balta, Miraflores, at 10.00 a.m., where participants (including a contingent of deaf people) from different points of the city gathered. From this meeting point, the participants started their way down to the shore towards Redondo Beach.
From a stage at the beach, Peruvian actor Sergio Galliani prepared the audience for the performance, which started when an interpreter delivered a speech in sign language. This speech was "echoed" at different moments of the performance by the participants, who had been previously taught slogans in sign language by Galliani. In a strongly symbolic and esthetically powerful scene, the responses of the audience were both in sign and oral languages. After the sign language speech, Jota Castro disclosed the content of the sign language message, which dealt with the exclusion suffered by the artist because of his race, establishing a parallel with the pain that three quarters of the world have to bear. "They don't listen to us", Castro repeated, talking about miscommunication, lack of justice, indifference and poverty. "We are all dumbŠ we are only a long silence in history". Then he encouraged the audience to "dream with a better world, a common future", as the Summit was taking place.
The French-Peruvian artist's performance transformed autobiographical and political issues into a historic and emotional experience that joined the audience for the first time with one of the most celebrated contemporary artists in the international scene today.
You can read and watch more information on the project, including press info at:
There is also a video of the action available at:

borderLands hackLab

The borderLands hackLab is based in San Diego, California. Our goals are to:
* provide technology for radical groups in san diego
* work towards technical self-sufficiency within our radical community
* challenge the tradition of racism, sexism and homophobia in technical education
* educate people about free software ideals and the usage of free software
* utilize our privilege as people in the U.S. to share technology with people who don't have the same level of access
Generally, their goals are to create more radical technology in san diego and provide tech solidarity abroad, specifically to the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico.
The borderlands hacklab is a network of hackers, artists and activists in the San Diego/Tijuana border region. They are creating a space for autonomous technology, that is, technology within autonomous social movements, operating outside of the State or the traditional forms of the left such as political parties or unions. When they say radical above, they generally mean anti-capitalist, anti-war and anti-authoritarian, or pro-decentralization of power.
From the Jargon File: "hacker: n. [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] 1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular...
6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.
7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations."

wiki - docs, updates, events and announcements

Reading List on Dance on Camera
Compiled from the Media Arts and Dance List
With contributions from (in alphabetical order):
Anna Brady Nuse, Deirdre Towers, Douglas Rosenberg, Karen Pearlman, Paige Starling Sorvillo, Richard James Allen, Simon Fildes Yukihiko Yoshida.

Some more from Sabine Klaus:

BROADHURST, S. & MACHON, J. (eds), 2006. Performance and Technology – Practices of Virtual Embodiment and Interactivity.
UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

CASS, J., 1999. The Dance – A Handbook for the Appreciation of the Choreographic Experience
Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc.

CARTER, A. (ed.), 2004. Rethinking Dance History.
London: Routledge.

CLARKE, M. & CRISP, C., 1981, The History of Dance.
London: Orbis Publishing Ltd.

COPELAND. R., 2004. Merce Cunningham – The Modernizing of Modern Dance.
New York: Routledge.

COHAN, R., 1997. The Dance Workshop. 2nd ed.
London, Dance Books Ltd.

DINKLA, S. & LEEKER, M. (eds), 2002, Dance and Technology: Moving towards Media Productions. Berlin: Alexander Verlag.

DODD, C., 1980. Ballet and Modern Dance.London: Phaidon Press Limited.FORSYTHE, W., 1999. Improvisation Technologies – A tool for the Analytical Dance Eye.
Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

KING, K., 2003. Writing in Motion – Body- Language – Technology.
Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press Middletown.

LEPECKI, A.(ed), 2004. Of the Presence of the Body – Essays on Dance and Performance Theory. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

MITOMA, J. (editor), 2002. Envisioning Dance on Film and Video.
UK: Routledge. (Book & DVD)

MOCK, R. (ed.), 2000. Performing Processes – Creating Live Performance.
USA: Intellect Books Ltd.

MORSE, M., 1998. Virtualities – Television, Media Art and Cyberculture
USA: Indiana University Press.

NEWLOVE, J. & DALBY, J., 2004. Laban for all.
London: A Nick Hern Book Ltd.

NICOLAEVA-LEGAT, N., 1947. Ballet Education. London: Geoffrey Bles.

RUTHVEN-HALL, P. (ed), 2002. 2D/3D Design for Theatre & Performance.London: The Society of British Theatre Design.

SANDAHL, C. & AUSLANDER, P. (eds), 2005. Bodies in Commotion – Disability & Performance.
Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.

SCHECHNER, R., 2002. Performance Studies – An Introduction.
London: Routledge.

SIEGMUND, G., 2004. William Forsythe - Denken in Bewegung (- Thinking in Motion).
Berlin: Henschelverlag.

WHITE, M., 2006, The Body and The Screen - Theories of Internet Spectatorship.
Massachusetts: Institute of Technology.

and some more from Sarah-Louise Spies:

1) Deleuze, G (translated by Hugh Tomlinson & Barbara Habberjam), 2005. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Continuum, London and New York. (Also available is Cinema 2: The Time-Image with the same publishing details.)

2) Rieser, M & Zapp, A (2004) New Screen Media: Cinema/Art/Narrative. BFI Publishing, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.

3) Jones, C (ed) 2006. Sensorium: embodied experience, technology, and contemporary art. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.

4) Marks, L.U. (2000) The Skin of the Film: intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses.Duke University Press, Durham and London.