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Stranger than fiction: (l-r) Ryan and Swinton in Strange Culture.

Art Beat

STILL HAVING TO FIGHT THE MAN Many of you are probably hip to this story, and I’ve written about this before [“A Matter of Authority,” March 9, 2006], but what happened—and is still happening—to Steve Kurtz is that important (and chilling). Kurtz, a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble, is facing up to 20 years in prison on charges related to “bioterrorism.” The trouble began in May 2004 when Kurtz’ wife, Hope, died at their Buffalo home of natural causes. He called 911. The cops saw the lab equipment he was using to prepare a genetically-modified-food exhibit for a show at MASS MoCA. They called in the FBI. The FBI showed up in hazmat suits and proceeded to impound everything in the house, including his wife’s body and their cat; the Feds held Kurtz as a suspected terrorist. They still refuse to drop some of the charges against him.

Tomorrow night (Friday, April 4) at 7 PM, the Sanctuary for Independent Media and RPI’s BioArt Initiative will host a screening of Strange Culture, a film about Kurtz’ plight, at Christ Church United Methodist (35 State St., Troy). Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Strange Culture is a part-documentary, part-docudrama look at the case; the latter aspect of the film features this year’s Academy Award-winning Best Supporting Actress (for Michael Clayton) Tilda Swinton, along with Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool) and Peter Coyote. Kurtz himself will introduce the film. According to the Sanctuary’s Steve Pierce, “100 percent of proceeds from this event will directly benefit Steve Kurtz’ ongoing legal battle.” The suggested donation is $10. For more info, visit

NEWISH VENUE, NEW WORKS Proctors’ New Plays Festival kicks off this week in one of the newish theaters at Schenectady’s arts megaplex, 440 Upstairs at Proctors. As Proctors CEO Philip Morris wrote, “It fits perfectly that the new Proctors would sponsor a festival of new plays in the region as a part of its mission.” Egan Reich’s General Desdemona opens Tuesday (April 9) and runs through April 26. Kevin Dobies’ Battles of the Band opens April 10 and runs through April 26; Nahal Navidar’s 110 Flights opens April 15 (tax day! yay!) and runs through April 27. Watch the theater pages of Metroland for reviews of these shows. For complete show-and-time info, please visit

CALL FOR ENTRIES (WOMEN ARTISTS) Speaking of subversive: “Women’sWork wants you to have your say.” Women’sWork: Arts at the Women’s Building is gearing up for a drawing exhibit on June 6, Drawing Resistance. The rationale for the show is that the “current repressive political environment allows routine censorship of artwork and speech considered ‘un-American’ or ‘unpatriotic’ or in any way subversive or controversial.” (See item number one: Just ask the gang from the Sanctuary.) Of course there are requirements: The individual pieces can be no larger than 5 inches by 7 inches, but may be part of a series; all work will be “pinned or taped” for exhibition; and submissions are due by 6 PM on May 16. Final decisions will be made on May 18. Original works can be dropped off at the Women’s Building (79 Central Ave., Albany) or digital versions can be e-mailed to For more info, call 462-2871.

—Shawn Stone

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