Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fleeting Ownership

The looting in Iraq was infamous. In the frenzy of the occupation, museums were ransacked and archaeological sites were damaged. It still happens in Iraq today but it’s taken in stride as collateral damage.

And now, as political unrest pops up everywhere, it begs the question: what cultural keepsake will be tainted next by political strife?

Just several days ago, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo reopened after the protests happening right outside its door forced them to close. As patrons entered the museum on Sunday, they were greeted with roses. But beneath the rosy surface, Egypt’s antiquities minister tries to salvage the many items that were stolen during the protests. Art is just one of many faceless victims of changing times.

As in Iraq and countless nations where laws are blurred in the fog of war, people loot because they feel an ownership for something. They may not have painted it or sculpted it but being a looter is a sign of being a survivor. They are in the nightmare of it; you are not.

So, who owns the art of the dead?

Ownership is a tricky subject. But, the important thing has never been to argue about who owns an item, it has always been about protecting items for future generations.

Art belongs to future generations.

-Alex Clark

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