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What Artworks might Benin Kingdom produce sans the 1897 punitive expedition
British Museum Notes
What-if an AI-powered Bronze caster could re-envision the arts in Benin Kingdom [1897-1914]?
Bronze casting in ancient [pre-1897] Benin Kingdom were royal prerogatives carried out by a guild of bronze casters. However, the 1897 British punitive expedition disrupted this tradition—the British Military invaded the kingdom
, Oba Ovonramwen was deposed, cultural objects were stolen from the palace. A huge percentage of the loot was accessioned to the British Museum, a range of Museums in Eastern Europe and the rest were sold to offset the cost of the raid
Between 1897—1914, art-making in the kingdom was nonexistent [or at best minimal]. This is because the head of craftsmen [The Oba] was not on the throne. Òmònògba AI is my attempt to fill in this 17 year gap. I often wonder what artistic traditions may have developed during this 17 year break. While, I realize these questions will not efface an event that occurred 123 years ago, I am interested in exploring the opportunity Machine Learning presents.
Using data from Museums that currently own looted works, I am training
, a guild of AI Bronze casters to assist in exploring the above mentioned questions
Benin Bronzes in Museums
Docs: The Expedition
Oba Ovonramwen, dethroned during the punitive expedition
Photograph taken on board the S. S. Ivy, a British Government vessel, as the Oba was exiled and sent to Old Calabar in eastern Nigeria. The soldiers are British trained members of the Niger Coast Protectorate force.
Portrait of the King of Benin, Oba Ovonramwen, seated in a wicker chair with three soldiers standing beside and behind him. The Oba is wearing a velvet gown, and his feet are shackled together with chains.
British soldiers sit surrounded by Benin works of art during the British Punitive Expedition of 1897
Papers relating to Massacre of British Officials near Benin, and consequent Punitive Expedition
The British Occupation of Benin: Loot From The King's Palace. (1897). The Graphic, 55(1), 493. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/docview/1692988193?accountid=10226
Oba refers to King in Bini language.