The FBI has subpoenaed several artists and art professors after Steve Kurtz was detained and had his (biological) art supplies confiscated. The FBI is using the US Patriot act’s paragraphs against bioterrorism. The mailing lists are abuzz (rhizome, fibreculture, nettime etc) – many people in the electronic art field know these people personally and are extremely worried. Others (such as myself) only know RTmark, the site publicising this, as a site of many a hoax, where they “shift identities, [hide] their artistic practice as Duchamp did…declaring what they’re doing as non-art” (Rachel Greene: Internet Art, p 95). After dozens of scams, I’m sceptical, ya know, and this fits so glibly into a current narrative mould for explaining the universe (scary big brother government idiotically but terrifyingly attacks innocents) that emails without mainstream media backup or personal connections had me wondering. Others have pointed out that though this is a serious and frightening case, there are artists and activists detained and abused daily in less affluent countries and nothing like the current fuss about it. It’s mainstreamed now, with several journalists having contacted the people involved, and it sounds quite appalling. I signed the support letter, and perhaps you would like to, too?

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