Above: The sabre of Omar Tall is returned to Senegal by France in a restitution ceremony (Photo credit: © Cineteve)
A unique art-history saga is coming to U.S. audiences as AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange presents Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Its Art as part of season 14 of the noted documentary series. Directed by French filmmaker Nora Philippe, Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Its Art recounts the true and troubling history of the theft of African artwork and sacred artifacts by European nations during the colonial period and the contemporary demand for their return to their rightful countries of origin.
Presenting a detailed lesson on both the art world and world history, Restitution? explores how colonizers looted nations throughout Africa of art and religious pieces. Even as the people and cultures were denigrated and oppressed, their art was used to curate museums and private collections in England, France, Germany and other countries in the Western world. Through archival footage and present-day conversations with African and European art historians and cultural experts including Hamady Bocoum, Bénédicte Savoy, Felwine Sarr, Ben Okri and more, Philippe’s film explores the lasting cultural trauma that still reverberates throughout Africa.
From the Benin Bronzes to priceless statues to the remains of Africans exploited as part of human exhibitions such as Sarah Baartman, activists, art experts and heads of state are pushing to repatriate the art and ancestors to their homelands. Will their efforts be enough to bring lasting change?
Watch the trailer for Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Its Art here.
The film can be streamed in its entirety on worldchannel.org as part of AfroPoP season 14 now. It will have its national broadcast debut on Monday, April 25, on WORLD Channel at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central).
AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.