Nigerian Man Has Launched Digital Art To Reclaim African Artefacts

looty project

A Nigerian man has launched digital art to reclaim artefacts.

A Nigerian man has established a project called “Looty” to restore African artefacts taken by European colonizers by producing 3-D renderings of them, selling them as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and using the revenues to assist young African artists.

Objects taken during the colonial period have been restored to their countries of origin in recent years, and Western organizations have sent things back to nations such as Nigeria and Benin. more info

Looty’s founder, Chidi Nwaubani, defined his idea as an alternative type of repatriation in which digital technologies are utilized to restore some control and ownership over artefacts kept distant from Africa.

Screenshot of the design process on an image of a looted artwork from Nigeria, that now resides in a British museum, with project's aim to give part of its non-fungible token (NFT) sale proceeds to fund young African artists, in this handout obtained May 23, 2022.

“Imagine a world where these items were never looted,” Nwaubani said “We’re just trying to reimagine that world and bring that world into the digital form.”

The process begins with what Nwaubani called a “digital art heist”, a perfectly legal procedure in which a Looty team member goes to a museum and scans a target object using technology that can be used to create a 3-D image.

An NFT of the image is created and put up for sale via the Looty website, which also acts as an online gallery where anyone can view the images for free. Nwaubani said 20% of the proceeds of NFT sales would go towards grants for African artists aged 25 or under.

NFTs are a type of digital asset that allows anyone to verify who owns them.

Although there were no quick purchases, Nwaubani has received expressions of interest from all around the world since the website’s launch on May 13.

Looty’s earliest NFTs were inspired by a photograph of one of the Benin Bronzes, which were plundered by British forces in what is now Nigeria in 1897 and are now housed in the British Museum in London.

“Knowing that it’s Nigerian but it lives outside of Nigeria has always troubled me. So I felt that there’s something that we could do to change that,” said Nwaubani.

Nwaubani declined to elaborate on Looty’s next big initiative, which is centred on an Ancient Egyptian artefact. The name Looty is a lighthearted tribute to the dog Looty, which was discovered by a British captain after forces raided the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860, brought back to London, and presented to Queen Victoria.