Free Bitflows Declaration
The Free Bitflows conference in Vienna adopted a protest declaration against imminent condemnation of artist based on US-terrorism law.
US security paranoia unable to distinguish art from bioterrorism
Founding member of Critical Art Ensemble faces terrorism charges
Steve Kurtz, a renowned artist and professor whose work addresses the implications of information and bio technologies, was arrested by FBI and special forces on 12 May, 2004. In a tragic antecedent, Kurtz's wife had died totally unexpectedly in the early morning of the same day due to a cardiac arrest. Following the seizure of Kurtz' complete working materials, the authorities declared his house a danger zone. However, the seized objects represent devices and substances that are commercially available and can be legally obtained by anyone. The pose no danger and Steve Kurtz has successfully used them in international art shows for years.
A founding member of the internationally acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble, Steve Kurtz now faces an indictment based on laws that severely curtail fundamental rights using the fight against terrorism as a pretext. The 'Patriot Act' serves as justification for a campaign not only against immigrants, but also against critical journalists, scientists, and recently also artists. Steve Kurtz has publicly denounced the patenting of the biosphere and the role played by corporations, and recently examined the transgenetic contamination of food products. His attempt to use artistic means to make the genetic manipulation of the food chain and the practices of the bio industry visible have made him a terrorist from the perspective of a generalized security paranoia. In fact, Steve Kurtz is now facing indictment for possession of biological substances for so-called 'non-peaceful purposes'. Apart from possible imprisonment, Steve Kurtz is severely harmed by the enormous financial demands of his legal defense.
The Free Bitflows conference and its international audience of artists, academics and cultural workers condemns the actions taken by the US justice authorities against Steve Kurtz in the strongest possible terms. We demand an immediate stop of the actions taken against Steve Kurtz as well as his full vindication and restoration as an artist.