Oct 5, 2009

CROWN FRAUD: Copyright and Looted Nigerian Cultural Patrimony

Above, a very interesting clip from YouTube featuring ongoing efforts to challenge and countermand Britain's claims of copyright ownership of looted Nigerian cultural patrimony. Basically, it concerns the British loot from the invasion of Benin in 1897. Like many other major museums in Europe and the USA who hold large collections of Benin Cultural Patrimony, the issue of who actually owns the copyright to such cultural patrimony is a hot issue. Not only do Western museums hold African art objects literally in bondage, they assert an ownership claim on the copyright of those objects. This is akin to double dispossession of the African producers of these artworks, who are denied physical ownership and also, through such claims to copyright ownership, denied ownership of the intellectual property rights of those artworks already lost to colonial adventurism.

Crown Fraud, a documentary film, raises a pertinent issue: the question of "Who Owns Africa's Cultural Patrimony" will be a major aspect of the intercultural relationship between Africa and the West for decades to come. In the meantime, let us state categorically on this blog that African cultures and societies who produced these artworks own any intellectual property rights that may accrue to the artworks. Any counter claim (of the sort the British Museum and other Western museums make on these artworks) is false and fraudulent, and completely illegal.

Oct 1, 2009

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria

Video introduction to an ongoing exhibition of African royal art from the ancient Yoruba City of Ife. (Erratta: My previous entry on this video failed to correctly identify the person being interviewed: Enid Schildkrout, Chief Curator of the Museum for African Art, New York. Apologies).