A Nigerian, Chidi Nwaubani, has launched an NFT project called Looty to reclaim African artefacts looted by European colonisers. Considered alternative repatriation, the project employs 3D and blockchain technology to reclaim some level of control and ownership over artefacts stolen from Africa.
How far real-life reparations have gone
Over 123 years ago, during colonial rule, Europeans looted thousands of African artefacts which included sculptures and royal objects carved out of bronze, ivory, brass, ceramic, and wood.
Looter-nations like France and Germany have returned a few of the stolen artworks and expressed a willingness to return more. However, several European institutions, including the British Museum, have refused to return the artworks they stole, preferring instead to“loan” them to interested African countries for exhibition.
It is not unanimously agreed how many artefacts were looted, but the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris houses 70,000 African objects and at least 3,000 artefacts were recorded as looted by the British.
How the Loot project is taking it all back
The process begins with a Looty team member going to a museum and scanning a target object using technology that can be used to create 3D images. Although legal, this step is called a “digital art heist”.
3D renderings of the scanned images are created and NFTs of the images are minted and put up for sale via the Looty website. Twenty percent of revenue made from the sales will be awarded as grants to African artists aged 25 or under.
The project deservedly received a lot of interest and steady purchases from all around the world since the website’s launch on May 13.
Albeit inspiring, this concept of the project begs a few questions, one of which is: Would the project still be true to its cause if the NFT is purchased by an European?