The European and African museums and the political institutions that decide on restitution are changing very slowly. Hegemonic ideas have been deposited in layers, and structural inequalities continue to reproduce today. How can we contribute to their transformation from inside and outside the institutions?
Moderated by: Emmanuelle Spiesse.
Lesson#1 Parlons des Mensonges Institutionnels – Bénédicte Savoy, Art Historian, Berlin
Bénédicte Savoy has shaped the restitution debate of recent decades. Together with the Senegalese author Felwine Sarr, she wrote a revealing and groundbreaking report on the restitution of cultural heritage commissioned by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
Lesson#2 Qui est le Voleur ? – Mwazulu Diyabanza, Political Activist, Paris
In 2020, Congolese activist Mwazulu Diyabanza tried to steal objects from European museums and bring them back to his country. The trial against him was highly publicised in Europe. As a result, he founded the Multicultural Front Against Pillaging to unite the world’s indigenous peoples to recover their looted heritage.
Lesson#3 Dealing with a Fragmented Heritage – Peju Layiwola, Visual Artist, Lagos
Peju Layiwola is an artist and professor of art history. Her work focuses on the looting and restitution of cultural heritage from the Kingdom of Benin (Nigeria) and memory culture, voids, and postcolonial continuities. She is the curator of various exhibitions, including I MISS YOU, at Rautenstrauch Joest Museum, Cologne, that prepares the restitution of 96 objects from the museum’s collection to Nigeria.
Lesson#4 Continuous Repositioning – Leone Contini, Artist and Anthropologist, Rome
The artist and anthropologist Leone Contini has worked extensively on the colonial traces scattered in the deposits and archives of Italian museums, amongst others in the former Colonial Museum in Rome, now Museo delle Civiltà, as well as in the archives of his family who lived in Libya, where his grandfather worked as an archaeologist.
Lesson#5 Radical Education – Sepake Angiama, Curator and Educator, London
Sepake Angiama has developed educational programmes for various institutions, including Tate Modern, documenta 14 and Manifesta12. She is the artistic director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), dedicated to developing artistic research, collective study, publishing and commissioning that reflects on the social and political impact of globalisation.
Photo: Another Portrait 1897, Peju Layiwola.