Artwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home Transformed

Title: Artwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home Transformed
Author: Jason Farago
Media Outlet: The New York Times
Publish Date: January 3, 2019

“(…) But how do Africans see the challenges, both practical and philosophical, of restituting works of art? What does the Savoy-Sarr report augur for African museums, African governments and African artists? And what new meanings might these works of art accrue if they are returned to where they were made centuries ago?

I posed those questions recently to three people with deep experience in African art. Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a Senegalese philosopher and professor of French at Columbia University who advised Ms. Savoy and Mr. Sarr on parts of the report; Cécile Fromont, associate professor at Yale University, is a French art historian who specializes in exchanges between African and European populations; and Toyin Ojih Odutola is a Nigerian-American artist, whose painstaking fictional portraits were seen last year in a Whitney Museum solo show (…)

MS. OJIH ODUTOLA I am looking forward to seeing these objects escape from the trauma of colonialism at some point. Every time we discuss these objects, we mention the “violence” of colonialism — but many were created before that!

(…) I don’t want to clear out museums. But what really hurts me, as an artist, is: Why are the Western institutions the most valid ones? What I’d like to see us move toward is the construction of institutions on the continent on par with Western institutions.””