April 21, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUDGE DISMISSES MAIL FRAUD CASE AGAINST BIO-ARTIST KURTZ
Buffalo, NY—A process that has taken nearly four years may be coming to an end. On Monday, April 21, Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled to dismiss the indictment against University at Buffalo Professor of Visual Studies Dr. Steven Kurtz.
In June 2004, Professor Kurtz was charged with two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud stemming from an exchange of $256 worth of harmless bacteria with Dr. Robert Ferrell, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
Dr. Kurtz planned to use the bacteria in an educational art exhibit about biotechnology with his award-winning art and theater collective, Critical Art Ensemble.
Professor Kurtz’ lawyer, Paul Cambria, said that his client was “pleased and relieved that this ordeal may be coming to an end.”
The prosecution has the right to appeal this dismissal. How the prosecution will proceed is unknown at this time. If an appeal were undertaken the case would move to the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.
Lucia Sommer, Coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund, which raises funds for Kurtz’ legal defense, said, “We are all grateful that after reviewing this case, Judge Arcara took appropriate action.” She added that “this decision is further testament to our original statements that Dr. Kurtz is completely innocent and never should have been charged in the first place.”
BACKGROUND ON DR. STEVEN KURTZ AND CRITICAL ART ENSEMBLE
Critical Art Ensemble (which Kurtz co-founded in 1987 with Steven Barnes) has won numerous awards for its bio-art, including the prestigious 2007 Andy Warhol Foundation Wynn Kramarsky Freedom of Artistic Expression Grant, honoring more than two decades of distinguished work. The group has been commissioned to exhibit and perform in many of the world's cultural institutions—including the London Museum of Natural History; The ICA, London; the Whitney Museum and the New Museum in NYC; the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; der Volksbüne, Berlin; ZKM, Karlsruhe; El Matadero, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Museo de Arte Carrilo Gil, Mexico City and many more.
+ READ JUDGE ARCARA'S RULING ON THE MOTION TO DISMISS