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<nettime> TACTICAL OUTRAGE
coco fusco on Thu, 3 Jun 2004 22:36:25 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> TACTICAL OUTRAGE


There has been a staggering amount of email exchange
about the Steve Kurtz case on a wide variety of
list-serves in the past two weeks and it is highly
unlikely that anyone in the artistic communities
receiving these messages agrees with the FBI.  
Letters from individuals denouncing the FBI moves
would best be
directed at public officials, law enforcement and the
media, rather than continuing to preach to the
converted.

It is a bit surprising that so many seem to
believe that the FBI really thinks CAE broke a law -
the history of repression of 60s "radicals"
demonstrates that law enforcement can and does work to
concoct illegality when a climate of fear and the
criminalization of dissent is the ultimate goal. The
demonizing of biotech artists in the present is the
equivalent of the crackdown on white student radicals
of the late 60s. The FBI then like now worked with
other branches of government, from the CIA to the IRS,
generate wide reaching campaigns against leftists
WITHOUT THEIR HAVING DONE ANYTHING WRONG. That is why
it is strategically more effective to look at the big
picture rather than treating Kurtz like a single
martyr.

Several people have already raised the important point
that the Kurtz case is only one of many many instances
of unwarranted and excessive repression by law
enforcement targetting intellectuals, artists,
activists and journalists. I join them in expressing
hope that all the artists who are concerned about
CAE's current travails demonstrate equal concern for
the other "cultural interventionists" in the US and
abroad who have suffered even greater and more
systematic repression and who do not have the same
degree of access to the media, famous lawyers or
supporters with money to contribute to their defense.
I hope I never have to post another story on nettime
about artists and activists in Latin America, for
example, who are getting shot at, arrested, jailed
without trial,or otherwise mistreated ALL THE TIME
only to have those reports garner no other response
than a dry comment on how multinational corporations
are more violent that right wing populist regimes or
what have you.  

Numerous other stories have been circulating about the
recent arrest of Animal Rights activists in New Jersey
on terrorism charges, about the arrest and torture of
anti-globalization activists in Guadalajara, about the
brutal treatment of Arab journalists working for NBC
in Iraq at the hands of US soldiers, and about
the unprompted arrival of undercover cops in yellow
cabs to the "Majority Whipped" opening at White Box
Gallery in NYC last month to shut down an event
designed as a warm up for the Republican National
Convention. "Art veterans" of battles with the US
government during the culture wars of the early 90s
will recall that the fetishizing of Mapplethorpe and
Serrano turned out to be a very stupid move -- because
it left the rest of the arts community completely
vulnerable to the repercussions of those highly
publicized skirmishes. As a result of those
individualistically oriented tactics, we now live in
an artworld that has completely introjected and
naturalized the conservative cultural views of the
backlash against institutional critique, civil rights
inspired interrogations of gender,class and race, and
all forms of art that addresses the social.

Learn from the past so as not to repeat it.

Coco Fusco

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