According to reports, French President Emmanuel Macron is having stolen West African artwork sent back to Benin “without delay.” Going back home are 26 thrones of statues taken during a colonial war against The Kingdom of Dahomey in 1892, all of which are currently on display at France’s Quai Branly Museum.
The decision comes years after Benin first requested the artwork’s return, and while it’s definitely something to celebrate, it’s only a small step. BBC points out that nearly 46,000 pieces still on display were obtained with “some degree of duress.”
— Okayplayer (@okayplayer) November 24, 2018
There’s also still the British Museum, where the stolen Parthenon Marbles from Greece, the Rosetta Stone from Egypt, among others, all live despite repeated requests to have them returned. And according to Okayplayer, the “priceless bronzes plundered by The Brits during an 1897 imperial expedition remain over a century after Benin City’s destruction, and nearly 60 years after Nigeria’s independence from Britain.”
In case you missed it, VICE recently sat down with Akinola Davis Jr., whose latest film, HOD (Heroes of Displacement), calls out museums who display art stolen by white colonizers. Known for directing Blood Orange’s “Charcoal Baby,” as well as founding Nigerian Lives Matter, Akinola referred to the project as a “calling.”
“I wanted to make something that could challenge and provoke,” he told VICE. “Most of the stuff I do is commercially-minded. I wanted to make something that wasn’t as linear, or something that changed the experience of watching a film on one screen.”
It’s a visually moving piece that eloquently expresses the frustration felt toward art institutions. You can read more from Davis’ interview here. You can also learn more about France’s latest move by heading to BBC.