Artist? Criminal? Yes

Last year Revok, a member of the graffiti crew MSK, was arrested and sentenced to 180 days for failure to pay for property damage when his work was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Both institutions were criticized for encouraging “vandalism.” The tension between art and conventional mores is longstanding — we can cite riots during the 1913 premier of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the 1987 arrest of Bono during a public concert here in San Francisco, and the 1998 Supreme Court ruling that stripped Karen Finley of federal arts funding — but there has rarely been a time when so many artists willingly or unwittingly became lawbreakers. Steve Kurtz, a member of Critical Art Ensemble, is one of 30 participants in the exhibition “I Am Crime: Art on the Edge of the Law.” In 2004, federal agents raided Kurtz’s home on suspicion of terrorism because of bacteria he and his wife were cultivating for an art project. The feds had been “tipped off” by paramedics responding to a 911 call when Kurtz’s wife suddenly died. Other evidence, such as photos of Hans Winkler’s Buy a Revolution, for which he hired day laborers to ride in the back of a pickup from the Mission to City Hall, armed with machetes, are somewhat more burlesque. Other participants include the Yes Men, Marque Cornblatt, Jesus Iniguez, 4Gentlemen, and Dreamers Adrift. The public is also invited to contribute illicit doings. Events during the exhibit include “I Fought The Law: A Conversation with Artists and Attorneys” on March 21.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 8. Continues through April 19, 2012

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