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In the late 19th century, the British punitive expedition in the west African empire of Benin led to the destruction of the great, highly organised empire. Several cultural artefacts looted from the King’s palace found their way to European museums a few years later. Most are still in captivity to date. This image interrogates the recent repatriation of some of these works in private collections and museums within the context of glocalisation. I ponder upon several troubling concerns. Are these objects still materially and spiritually intact after over 150 years in captivity? How do the postcolonial realities affect their reception? A lot has changed in the empire they once inhabited as the bridge between celestial and terrestrial realms. Would they stay and still wield their authority in the face of current socio-cultural and political entrapment imposed on Africa since the Berlin conference of 1884? Considering their dual citizenship, will they endure for long, especially in this “Japa” season? Hmm … time will tell. Original digital copy available for sale as NFT here

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