CTHEORY.NET > 1000 Days of Theory: When Taste Politics Meet Terror: The Critical Art Ensemble on Tri

Orwellian to the max.

Is paranoia merely a state of awareness?

The Case

On May 11, 2004 Steve Kurtz, a filmmaker, performance artist and founding member of the Buffalo-based Critical Art Ensemble, phoned 911 after waking to find his wife, Hope Kurtz, unconscious in bed beside him. Apparently, Ms. Kurtz had died in her sleep. But it was not only her death that worried the emergency aid team that came in response to Kurtz’s call, but also the laboratory equipment and inert biological compounds which Mr. Kurtz uses as part of his art work and which he had stored in his home. The 911 team phoned the FBI (this is where things get murky—because the group that actually came was the Joint Terrorist Task Force). Steve Kurtz was arrested on suspicion of bio-terrorism. Hope Kurtz’s body was impounded (which meant that it couldn’t be released for a funeral). Kurtz’s equipment, computer, art supplies, books, films and biological material were confiscated. The Joint Terrorist Task Force Agents also took Mr. Kurtz’s car, his house, and his cat.

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