Contemporary art was offered in exchange for British bronzes from Benin
The Ahiamwen Artists Guild, an organization based in Benin City, Nigeria, has proposed a new method to accelerate the return of Benin Bronzes to their country of origin: the Guild has just announced that it wishes to offer the British Museum several works of art from Benin. This offer is made in the hope that the donations will encourage the British Museum to return the Benin bronzes that the institution has in its possession; the debate on these objects has been going on for years. Concretely, the Guild wishes to offer the British Museum a bronze plaque retracing the history of Benin and a life-size ram made up of spark plugs.
So far, the British Museum has only said that the question of accepting the offer and completing the exchange was a discussion that would only take place between the institution and the Guild, but that is certainly a generous and interesting offer from a group that owes the British institution nothing at this point. “We never stopped making the bronzes even after they were stolen,” said Osarobo Zeickner-Okoro, founding member of the Ahiamwen Artists’ Guild. Reuters. “I think we’re making them even better now.”
“Part of the crime that was committed, it’s not just ok, they were looted, is the fact that you portrayed our civilization as a dead civilization, you put us in ancient Egypt or something. something like that, “Zeickner-Okoro continued. So far, the British Museum has indeed been slow to return the objects, unlike other countries entirely; Germany, for example, has stepped up talks to return the Benin Bronzes to the country in Nigeria.
In France, meanwhile, endless bureaucratic tangles, diplomatic communication problems and a lack of funding have so far delayed the quai Branly museum’s alleged plans to return its bronzes to Benin.