Friday, December 16, 2011

The Talk of Strange Culture

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Imagine; one day you wake up and the love of your life is gone forever. Death takes her away and leaves you with a terrible sense of grief and loneliness. You’re hearts heavy, and when you pick up the phone to call the paramedics, the FBI show up at your door.

This is the story of Steve Kurtz, an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, Buffalo. Kurtz woke to find that his wife had died in her sleep due to heart failure, but instead of being able to grieve over the sudden loss of his wife of 27 years, Kurtz’s project full of harmless Petri dishes preparing an art exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art was confiscated by the FBI.

Within hours of their arrival, the FBI whisked Kurtz away under the suspicion of bioterrorism, his wife’s body was confiscated for autopsy twice, and his home quarantined with his cat locked away inside without food or water.

Even now, seven years after the incident and two years after the final trial verdict, the public still doesn’t know how easily an innocent civilian behavior can become a suspicious act, how sneaky labels aren’t telling anyone what they are actually consuming, or the amount of restriction the government’s placed against the public’s first Amendment right.

It’s scary to think that this has all happened, that this situation turned into as big of an issue as it did, and that people are even frightened for being detained for sharing information and saying what’s really on their minds.

Below is a film done by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, who artistically “bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will” and pieces together a series of re-enactment, news clips, interviews that retell the story that everyone should have been told.

And here is the link for the updates on Mr. Kurtz’s trial.

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