"In July 2006, Angie Waller and Jim Fetterley decided to visit Steve Kurtz in Buffalo and make a candid video about him awaiting trial for mail fraud. "Steve Kurtz Waiting" can provide an active introduction to his grand jury case for those who have never heard of it, while also providing a valuable account of where he stands at this time for those of us who have been following the work of Critical Art Ensemble for years.
"Since May 11th 2004, Steve's life has drastically changed and the outcome of his case will affect all US citizens."
On May 11, Steve Kurtz phoned 911 to report his wife of 20 years was unresponsive. When paramedics came to his house, one of them noticed that Kurtz had laboratory equipment, which he used in his art exhibits. The paramedics reported this to police and the FBI sealed off his house.Link
Authorities later said that Kurtz's wife had died of "heart failure," but he wasn't allowed to return to his home for two days while the FBI confiscated his equipment, and biological samples. They also carted off his books, personal papers and computer.
The contradiction between the charges for possessing harmful substances and the county health commissioner assessing that no hazardous substances were found in the house leaves only the conclusion - that ideas, when misunderstood or disagreeable, are toxic.
Kurtz is one of the founders of the Critical Art Ensemble, a group whose beginnings in filmmaking over a decade ago have evolved into public performances and videos that educate the public about the politics of biotechnology. All of CAE's museum and public performances are meant to not only inform the public about the ways their lives are affected by biotechnology, but also to dispel public paranoia that is generated by the media and a lack of understanding.
Steve became the victim of this paranoia, and through the extended powers of the US Patriot Act, he still awaits trial for mail fraud. If found guilty, could face up to twenty years.