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ERIC Number: EJ806204
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul-18
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
After Terror Charges, Artist Exhibits Academic Freedom
Wilson, Robin
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n45 pA10 Jul 2008
Steven Kurtz, a professor of visual studies at the State University of New York, has been working with various bacteria as part of his counterculture exhibit artworks for nearly 20 years. Four years ago, federal agents raided his home in a bioterrorism investigation. The federal agents had been called to the house by local police officers investigating the sudden death of Kurtz's 45-year-old wife, Hope. Authorities soon determined Hope had died of heart failure. Despite of his explanation that the bacteria in his home were a harmless element in his antiauthoritarian artwork, a grand jury eventually indicted the professor. He was charged of illegally receiving biological agents through the mail--a crime that carries up to 20 years in prison under the USA Patriot Act. Hundreds of artists and professors--including scientists--from around the globe rushed to support him, raising $350,000 for his defense. The notoriety turned the professor and his work into a cause celebre, and even his neighbors jocularly refer to Kurtz as "Professor Al Qaeda." Kurtz' legal saga has had wide-ranging effects for artists and academics. The case has rewritten the rules about what topics are safe for artists, professors, and writers to pursue.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York