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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 054 - 3 May 2023

ARTE cooperates with the Africa Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth

In cooperation with ARTE, the Franco-German cultural television station, the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" of the University of Bayreuth will present the documentary film "Looted Art in Benin City" as part of its series "AfriKaleidoscope" on 10 May 2023 from 7 pm. This will be followed by a discussion on the restitution of art objects with the director Jean-Alexander Ntivyihabwa and researchers from the University of Bayreuth. 

The film programme "AfriKaleidoskop" enters a new round. In 2023, the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" will once again present a series of films that focus on various important topics of the African continent. In cooperation with the television station ARTE, the Cluster of Excellence will show documentary films on three dates.  The first is "Looted Art in Benin City", from the current series "Africa's New Museums" produced by ARTE. It will be shown on 10 May 2023 at 7 pm at the Kulturhaus Neuneinhalb in Bayreuth. The film by Jean-Alexander "Sacha" Ntivyihabwa is dedicated to the Benin bronzes, which are as famous as they are controversial. They are the most important Edo art treasure, looted by the British army in the late 19th century from the palace of the ruler of the Kingdom of Benin in present-day Nigeria and sold to museums in the global North, including Hamburg. What is to be done with the bronzes today when they return? Who exactly in Benin City has a claim to the bronzes? What kind of museum is needed to give the art objects a new adequate environment? These and other questions are explored in more detail in the documentary.

The Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" has several points of contact with the topic of restitution of art objects in its work. The art historian Prof. Dr Adepeju Layiwola is a member of the Cluster of Excellence at the African Cluster Centre at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and has played a major role in preparing the return of the Benin bronzes. Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler works in the project "Black Atlantic Revisited" - African and South American UNESCO World Heritage Sites and "Shadowed Spaces" of Performative Memory" together with PD Dr. Gilbert Ndi Shang and Thierry Boudjekeu on questions of memory and cultural heritage in West Africa (Benin, Senegal). Dr. Cassandra Mark-Thiesen is head of the project "African Knowledges and the History Publication since the 1970s" and works on questions of archiving and memory in Liberia. Prof. Dr. Katharina Schramm, cultural and social anthropologist at the University of Bayreuth and Principal Investigator of the Cluster of Excellence, also deals with artefacts appropriated during the colonial period as part of her research activities. In addition, the Iwalewahaus Bayreuth, in cooperation with the Digital Solutions Team of the Cluster of Excellence, is part of the pilot phase of the "Three-Way Strategy for the Acquisition and Digital Publication of Collections from Colonial Contexts in Germany", which is being pursued at federal and state level.

AfriKaleidoscope meets ARTE
Wednesday 10 May 7-21 p.m., Kulturhaus Neuneinhalb, Gerberplatz 1, D-95445 Bayreuth. 

Admission is free, the discussion will be held in German and English.

The Cluster of Excellence: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/exzellenzcluster
ARTE: https://www.arte.tv/de/

The director of the documentary will be present for the presentation in Bayreuth. Jean-Alexander "Sacha" Ntivyihabwa, born in 1964, is a studied Africanist, historian and passionate about music and culture. Sacha Ntivyihabwa lives out his enthusiasm for television making as managing partner of Signed Media, which is represented with its programmes in the most important TV markets worldwide. In addition, Ntivyihabwa is also the founder of the anti-racist media watch association "Der Brauner Mob" and serves as an advisory board member of the association "Schotstek - scholarships for people with a migration background". He incorporates his intercultural experience and competence into his TV programmes and conveys it as a speaker and lecturer at foundations and universities

Regisseur Jean-Alexander Ntivyihabwa will talk to the audience on 10 May.

Following the 26-minute film presentation, the filmmaker will discuss the topic of restitution of art objects together with Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler, Chair of Romance Literary Studies and Comparative Literature with a special focus on Africa, and Dr. Cassandra Mark-Thiessen, historian and Junior Research Group Leader in the Cluster of Excellence, and answer questions from the audience.

The event will be recorded and available on the ARTE media library and the Cluster YouTube channel. 

Sabine Greiner.

Sabine Greiner

Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
University of Bayreuth