Steve Kurtz, Critical Art Ensemble
with Lynn Hershman Leeson screening of STRANGE CULTUREApril 5, 2007, 6:00 pm »
This lecture is built upon the following premises: First, any action within the cultural landscape performed from a minoritarian political position will be perceived by authority as contestational act; and second, once challenged, any or all of a variety of disciplinary agents will be sent to restabilize the discourses of the status-quo through the managing or silencing of resistant cultural production. Over the past two decades, Critical Art Ensemble has encountered many of these agents. Police, FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, corporate lawyers. politicians, church officials, and government bureaucrats have attacked, threatened, or denounced CAE for acting against the authoritarian tendencies of Western societies. This lecture chronicles the reasons why our work has elicited such responses, and how the violence against cultural resistance has escalated and intensified over the past five years.
Steve Kurtz is a founding member of Critical Art Ensemble (CAE). CAE is a collective of tactical media practitioners of various specializations, including computer graphics and web design, wetware, film/video, photography, text art, book art, and performance. Formed in 1987, CAE’s focus has been on the exploration of the intersections between art, critical theory, technology, and political activism. The collective has performed and produced a wide variety of projects for an international audience at diverse venues ranging from the street, to the museum, to the Internet. Critical Art Ensemble has also written five books, and has just released its sixth work Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health. Kurtz is an Associate Professor of Art at SUNY, Buffalo.
STRANGE CULTURE (2007, 75 min.)
The surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz began when his wife Hope died in her sleep of heart failure. Medics arrived, became suspicious of Kurtz’s art, and called the FBI. Within hours the artist was detained as a suspected "bioterrorist" as dozens of agents in hazmat suits sifted through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, his cat, and even his wife’s body. Today Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, former Chair of the Genetics Department at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date.
Produced by Steven Beer, Lise Swenson and Lynn Hershman Leeson
Lynn Hershman Leeson has been cited as the "most influential woman working in new media". She has worked extensively in photography, video, film, performance, installation, and interactive and net-based media. Hershman Leeson wrote, directed and produced, Teknolust, starring Tilda Swinton which premiered in the American Showcase of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Berlin International Flm Festival. and is being distributed internationally. Her artwork is held in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), The National Gallery of Canada, DG Bank (Frankfurt), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), The William Lehmbruch Museum (Duisburg), the ZKM Mediammuseum (Karlsruhe) and The Hess Collection. The University of California Press published a monograph 2005 titled Secret Agent, Private I, The Art and Film of Lynn Hershman Leeson. She is an emeritus Professor at the University of California, Davis and an A.D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University, the highest honor given by that institution.
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