The Politics of Fear

On May 11, 2004, activist artist Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) awoke to find his wife Hope had died of cardiac arrest. He dialed 911, launching an Orwellian series of events in which the FBI arrested Kurtz and confiscated his artistic work and supplies, which they interpreted as bio-terrorist weapons and threatening propaganda. This included drafts of CAE's latest book, Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health, which has since been reconstructed and is now being published by Autonomedia. Concurrent with the screening of the Marching Plague video, at the Whitney Biennial, New York's Eyebeam is hosting a book launch on May 24th, at which the book will be discussed and other artists' films concerning the political and social fallout of bio-technological warfare will be screened. In the climate of scare tactics perpetuated by the Bush Administration since 9/11 and the anthrax scare in the 'War on Terror,' CAE's new book is a timely reference on the politics of fear and the rhetoric of the government's assertion that apocalypse awaits us all if we aren't prepared. - Randall Packer