Proposal of the Ahiamwen guild for the repatriation of bronzes from Benin


A group of Nigerian artists, known as the Ahiamwen Guild, offered to exchange contemporary works of art at the British Museum in exchange for the return of Benin bronzes that were looted in the late 19th century.

First reported by ReutersGuild spokesperson and artist colleague Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro told the new outlet: “We never stopped making the bronzes even after they were stolen.” In fact, he thinks they make them “even better now”. Although he never completely abandoned this practice, Zeickner-Okoro believes that this gap in his nation’s cultural identity carries a colonial narrative that describes his nation as a “dead civilization,” such as “ancient Egypt. “, did he declare.

For those who are not familiar, the Benin Bronzes are a collection of thousands of historical artifacts from the ancient kingdom of Benin, located in the southern region of today’s Nigeria. The art collection ranges from figurines and sculptures, masks and ivory tusks, to jewelry and plates depicting historical events. In the 1890s, the British Army looted works of art from Benin and in the years that followed, sold a number of them to private dealers and institutions around the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. , the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the British Museum, which currently holds the largest collection in the world. Asked by Artnet news on the institution’s position on restitution, the British Museum replied:

“We believe that the strength of the British Museum’s collection lies in its breadth and depth, enabling millions of visitors to understand the cultures of the world and how they interconnect over time, whether through the through trade, migration, conquest or peaceful exchange. “

For Zeickner-Okoro, who grew up between Benin City and London, he understands the potential exposure brought by works of art residing in Western institutions, however, many descendants of the original bronze founders cannot afford to do so. the trip to see them at the British Museum and should now be rightly sent back to his home country.

Also in the news, one of the warrior The paintings are expected to fetch around US $ 19 million at auction.

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