Marching Plague from Critical Art Ensemble

Event Type: 
book launch
Event Type: 
Start Date: 
24 May 2006

Please join us for a book launch and an evening of conversation concerning contemporary warfare: an anti-war event. Critical Art Ensemble present their latest book, Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health published by Autonomedia and appearing in conjunction with their piece “Marching Plague” in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. This event is open to the public free of charge and will take place at Eyebeam, 540 W. 21st Street between 10th & 11th Aves.

The evening will include brief presentations by artists Gregg Bordowitz and Paul Chan and CAE Defense Fund representative Lucia Sommer . Films from Peggy Ahwesh, Lynn Hershman Leeson  and the Yes Men , along with the Crtical Art Ensemble's film "Marching Plague", produced/ commissioned by Arts Catalyst, will be screened on monitors throughout the evening.

Marching Plague examines the scientific evidence and the rhetoric surrounding biological warfare, particularly the development of anthrax and other bio-weapons, and makes a strong case against the likelihood of such weapons ever being used in a terrorist situation. Studying the history and science of such weapons, they conclude that for reasons of accuracy and potency, biological weapons lack the efficiency required to produce the widespread devasta-tion typically associated with bioterrorism.

Why, then, the public urgency around biowarfare and why the channeling of enormous resources into research and development of tools to counter an imaginary threat? This is the real focus of Marching Plague: the deconstruction of an exceedingly complex political economy of fear, primarily supporting biowartech development and the militarization of the public sphere. The book addresses the following questions:
• Why is bioterrorism a failed military strategy?
• Why is it all but useless to terrorists?
• How have preparedness efforts been detrimental to public health policy?
• What institutions benefit from the cultivation of biofear?
• Why does the diplomatic community fail to confront this problem?

The book concludes with a brief examination of the actual crisis in global public health, arguing for the redirection of health research away from the military, and promoting a number of strategies for civilian-based preparedness and education.

Critical Art Ensemble’s books address the deep-rooted replication of capitalism at the frontiers of science and technology. Whether discussing robotics, information technologies, or the biological sciences, CAE skillfully exposes unseen agendas at the foundation of 21st century life, and suggest interventions and semiotic shocks that hope to collectively negate the rising intensity of authoritarian culture.

Autonomedia books are distributed to the trade by SCB Distributors (, AK Press Distribution (, Small Press Distribution (, Pluto Press in Europe ( and from Autonomedia ( ) directly.

People: Critical Art Ensemble, Gregg Bordowitz, Lucia Sommer, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul Chan, Peggy Ahwesh, Steve Kurtz, The Yes Men
Tags: Marching Plague