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artnet Questionnaire
Where is Critical Art Ensemble?
Mar. 21, 2007 

(1) Who are you?

Critical Art Ensemble.

(2) Why are you making art?

The production of culture can serve political ends.

(3) What does your art refer to?

Usually it refers to the critique of technocracy, but at times CAE addresses very localized issues by intervening in specific authoritarian cultural tendencies.

(4) Who needs your art?

No one needs anything but air, food, water, and shelter. Art is choice or imposition.

(5) What is the purpose of your art?

To alter habitual modes of thought and behavior.

(6) Who is interested in your art?

Whoever is around when we do a project. Typically, CAE’s work is discovered by the public; the projects are not attended.

(7) What does your art change?

We have no way to measure outcome.

(8) Is your art beautiful?

It is, if beauty is a necessary condition for the situation we are producing.

(9) Which question do you miss here?

What is your greatest failure?

Critical Art Ensemble is a collective that was founded by Steve Kurtz, Dorian Burr and several other artists in 1987. Like Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and the Guerrilla Girls, CAE is engaged in both contemporary politics and media culture, though with a specific focus on technology and its social effects. CAE’s work also involves the practice of "tactical media," which seeks to co-opt the methods of mass media for political ends. CAE has been specifically focused on the political dimensions of biotechnology; among its recent publications are Molecular Invasion (2002) and Marching Plague (2006). The profile of the group was raised considerably in 2004, when Steve Kurtz was arrested by the FBI and detained under terrorism statutes in regard to some biological materials he had collected for some of his art installations. His case remains open, and he faces up to 20 years in jail.