WHAT STARTED IT ALL
I received an email in my inbox in June of 1998, that began There have been times in human history when the line between genius and insanity was so fine that it was barely perceptible. In the world of biotechnology and food, that line has just been obliterated. Announcements made over the past 90 days suggest that an ingenius scientific achievement and subsequent, related business developments threaten to terminate the natural, God-given right and ability of people everywhere to freely grow food to feed themselves and others. Never before has man created such an insidiously dangerous, far-reaching and potentially "perfect" plan to control the livelihoods, food supply and even survival of all humans on the planet. After confirming that this represented a legitimate development, I decided I could not sleep another night if this technology was commercialized. I organized the artists in my community and founded the Hexterminators.
The Hexterminators was a US based international collective of performers, artists, activists, artactivists, poets, gardeners, scientists, multimedia and web artists that generated projects from 1998-2001 to fill a void in genetic engineering activism. We were part of the largest worldwide mobilization in history to oppose a high-tech form of colonialism, exploitation and biodevastation: the genetic engineering of our food supply by Monsanto Corporation. As news of the day reported, On March 3, 1998 the Monsanto owned company Delta and Pine Land Co and the US Department of Agriculture announced that they received US Patent No. 5,723,765 on a new genetic technology designed to prevent unauthorized seed saving by farmers. Up to 1.4 billion resource poor farmers in the South depend on farm saved seed and seeds exchanged with farm neighbors as their primary seed source (ETC Group). Dubbed Terminator Technology, this seed-sterilizing patent caused an unparalled worldwide movement to prevent the commercialization of this technology.
The Hexterminators used art, creativity, humor and entertainment to bring attention to genetic engineering, while expanding the debate from strictly environmental concerns into issues of economic and environmental injustice. We brought creative energy to genetic engineering activism through radical street performance, invisible theatre, multimedia art, web activism and outreach, visual art installation, radio interviews, panel discussions, university lectures, impromptu carnivals and direct action interventions. Wearing outlandish outfits to protests, we were featured in multiple media publications and broadcasts around the world.
Our Inagural exhibit, the Carnavale of Biolife, was held at the SF Art Commision in October of 1998. The SF Art Commission gallery was filled with a roulette table of the genetics era, while the league of Super Heroes made a special appearance to do street theatre.
My artists statement was based on the interconnections of the biotechnology industry, and read in part: My research on farmworkers has led me through an incredible journey, from farming, to agriculture, to agrochemical companies, to the mergers of agro-chemical corporaitons with pharmaceuticals and "life sciences" corporations. It has led me straight into the Biotechnology Revolution and the heart of ethics in this Brave New World. ..
Our work was manifold, using multiple strategies and tactics that were prevalent in the alter-globalization movement during the late 1990's, especially around activist disruption of the WTO meetings in Seattle in 1999. As artactivists focused on a campaign, we were not careful about documentation, and have lost our repository of images from years of work.
THE LOW DOWN
You can get the low down on all our activities in an interview by the Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos, and/or check out the pages below:
A FEW OF OUR ARTERVENTIONS
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