This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.

Bio-art at the New Museum, Left Forum at the Cooper Union

"Cracks in the Edifice," detail of Left Forum 2008 Brochure
Cracks in the Edifice, detail image from Left Forum 2008 brochure

Media Art in the Age of Transgenics, Cloning, and Genomics
New Silent
7:30pm Friday 14 March 2008
New Museum - 235 Bowery, New York NY

LEFT FORUM 2008: Cracks in the Edifice
Various times
Friday 14 March - Sunday 16 March 2008
The Cooper Union - 7 E. 7 St, New York NY

Rhizome director Lauren Cornell has organized a new series of events this year on art and technology at the New Museum titled The New Silent. The series continues this month with a panel discussion put together by we-make-money-not-art's Regine Debatty, featuring a group of artists working with biotechnology: Caitlin Berrigan, Adam Zaretsky, Brandon Ballengee, and Kathy High. The relationship between science, engineering, and the retention and affirmation of state power is a deeply intricate narrative, and an artist's role in such a narrative can have equally resonant and provocative political implications. We need not think further back in recent memory than the story of Steve Kurtz and the Critical Art Ensamble, targeted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in a May 2004 raid on the SUNY Buffalo professor and long-established artist's home in which much of his work, personal and professional documents, and electronic and lab equipment was seized. Most of the equipment taken was in fact commercially available science equipment, about $256 worth of harmless bacteria, and several constituting pieces of art works that had been displayed safely in international venues for years prior. All of the materials seized were legal and determined by the New York State Commissioner of Public Health to pose no threat to public health or safety. Yet Kurtz was targeted by the FBI in 2004 after local cops, responding to a 911 call Kurtz made after his wife had suffered a heart attack, became suspicious by the presence of various pieces of scientific equipment in the couple's home. In the case of Kurtz, the widely visible artist was targeted either out of a willed ignorance on the part of the local and federal government or as a strategic and symbolic "pressure point" to a network of activist-artists and the supporting community infrastructure — it's hard to tell which, if such a distinction even matters anymore in the surrealist choreography of post-PATRIOT Act law enforcement.

Also this weekend is Cracks in the Edifice, this year's annual Left Forum hosted at the Cooper Union from Friday to Sunday. Dozens of panels and talks are scheduled to happen throughout the weekend with an impressive list of participants including Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Tariq Ali, Naomi Wolff, Mahmood Mamdani, the Billionaires for Bush, and many more. Just a sampling of the weekend's panel offerings will provide a sufficient survey of the scope and interest of Left Forum events; panels scheduled will include those on legacy of the the 60s black power movement, leftist American evaluations of Hugo Chavez, Marxism and feminism in contemporary China, homelessness and resistance in New York City, political violence in Darfur, sports and the culture wars, and many more.