Acceptable Losses, 2013
Acceptable Losses is an exhibition that examines quantitative representations of death. Following the Guerrilla Girls’ social contextualization of raw numeric data to construct narratives about gender disparity in the art world of Manhattan, Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) pushes this technique in order to examine which forms of human sacrifice are acceptable within US society and which are not. At a time of mass shootings, a veteran suicide epidemic, and an explosion of cancer deaths, this exhibition offers a glimpse into the nonrational responses to abstract representations of death that in turn inform public policy governing objects, processes, and behaviors that are associated with death.

Link to Supporting Stats

Immolation, 2008, video installation, 5 minute loop
This video installation addresses the use of incendiary weapons on civilians after the Geneva Convention and the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons of October 1980. The video chronicles the major war crimes of the United States involving these weapons on a (macro) landscape level, and contrasts it with the damage done to the body on the (micro) cellular level. To accomplish this task, CAE grew human tissue at the SymbioticA Art and Science Collaborative Research Laboratory at the University of Western Australia, and, using high-end microscopy shot the micro footage. In addition to this imagery, CAE uses film footage of present and past wars that have used immolation against civilian targets as a strategic choice for the sole purpose of terrorizing entire populations. The goal is to provide a different way of imaging, viewing, and interpreting the human costs of these war crimes, in contrast to the barrage of media imagery to which we have become so desensitized.

Seized, 2008
Seized is a installation that documents all the work and household objects that were confiscated from Steve Kurtz’s home after the FBI raid in May 2004. It also displays all the trash the FBI left behind.

Germs of Deception, 2005-7
This installation chronicles the major hoaxes used over the past century to trick governments into establishing germ warfare programs (primarily by various sectors of the military seeking to increase their budgets); it also documents the tricks used by governments to convince various publics that germ warfare programs were necessary for national security. The installation itself is a performance of one of these cons—the old Serratia-in-the-ventilation-ducts trick: First, spray a harmless bacteria like Serratia marcescens into the air ducts of a building. Next, show how it spreads throughout the building. Finally, claim that had this been a dangerous bacteria, everyone would have died. Panic ensues; program is established. Do not mention that the actual infection rate would have been far less than the coverage rate, and the mortality rate far less than that.

The Body Proud, 2003
A review of the correlation between full body meltdown and the intensification of the techno-sphere. The Body Proud presents a video that tracks the boom in therapeutic services, psychiatric drugs, physical therapy, and mental hospital expansion. The broken bodies themselves are provided by attendees who get a massage.

True Crime, 1997
True Crime was a project that came in both 2-D and performative forms. The public was asked to bring a piece that in some way chronicled a crime they had committed. Crimes were mostly drugs and work scams, but other like illegal border crossing and some major felonies made their way into the show. This showed that criminality is a sociological trend more than weak character flaw. We all have criminality in our identity. In the performative version the public was asked to commit a crime that has “humanitarian value.”

Shareholders Briefing, 1996
A mock performative meeting in which attendees are briefed on the latest advancements in information, communication, military and bio technology and what it will mean for better control of the body, of personal and public expression, and of macro populations “of interest.” The performance ends with the projected profits from the control industry. Charts and reports are provided.