Making the Most of Negative Space

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By now, many Rhizome readers are familiar with the ordeal endured by Steve Kurtz, a member of the tactical media collective Critical Art Ensemble dubiously charged with "mail fraud" (when bioterrorism allegations didn't stick) following the sudden death of his wife. More details on the case, which resonated in ripples throughout the art world and raised many important questions about free speech rights, can be found on the CAE Defense Fund website. Now CAE and their frequent collaborators, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, are teaming-up in an exhibition at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, in Kurtz's city of residence, Buffalo, NY. The show, entitled "Seized," revolves around the materials taken by the FBI in their occupation and search of Kurtz's home. The negative spaces left behind by these absent books, art works, and other seemingly innocuous objects are filled by the garbage the FBI left behind. The show will also include the works in which CAE was engaged at the time, and which came under Homeland scrutiny. These include Free Range Grain, Molecular Invasion, and GenTerra, all of which explore the systems of scientific research as models for discussing the impact of biotechnology on our food, our bodies, and ironically, our security. The exhibition will be open June 7-July 13 and, like the negative spaces filled by government garbage in the exhibited documentation, the show offers an opportunity to fill the hole punched by this unfortunate series of events with critical conversation. - Marisa Olson


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