Showing posts with label Looting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Looting. Show all posts

December 27, 2014

Viktorija Zupancic and Bojan Dobovšek publish on "Criminality Related to Cultural Heritage - Analysis of Interviews" in the Fall 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
   ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

In the Fall 2014 issue of The Journal of Art CrimeViktorija Zupancic and Bojan Dobovšek publish on "Criminality Related to Cultural Heritage - Analysis of Interviews".  Here's the abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to define the existence of crime against cultural heritage and determine whether this type of criminality is on the rise around the world. By carrying out guided interviews with experts in this field, the authors wished to define guidelines for the fight against this type of criminality. By studying the available literature, the authors found that crime against cultural heritage is on the rise. Economically and socially less-developed countries, from which most antiquities originate, are most susceptible to this type of criminality. Such countries of origin include particularly the countries of South America and the Middle East, while the Western part of the globe is mainly market-oriented and represents the final destination of smuggled antiquities. This paper also aims to determine the adequacy and appropriateness of legal acts governing the protection of cultural heritage and the fight against this type of criminality. Problems are mainly related to the implementation and enforcement of such legal provisions and related sanctions in practice.
Viktorija Zupančič is a student at the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security of University of Maribor, Slovenia. Bojan Dobovšek is Associate Professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia.

Subscriptions to The Journal of Art Crime or individual copies of eEditions or printed issues may be obtained through ARCA's website here.

December 4, 2014

Review: Ai Weiwei “Zodiac” sculptures on tour to promote awareness of contested cultural heritage

By Hal Johnson, 2014 ARCA student and DNA Consultant

Few contemporary artists are more socially and politically conscious than Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. His world views are often expressed in his work, which has become his most powerful means of communication now that the Chinese government has curtailed his attempts at free speech. He was once a celebrated artist and architect in his country and arguably still is. However, he ran afoul of authorities after criticizing the government’s handling of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the massive earthquakes in Sichuan Province that same year. He was an outspoken blogger – the forum where he expressed many of his frank political opinions – until it was shut down by the state. In 2011 he was detained for 81 days; upon his release his passport was revoked and he was slapped with charges of tax evasion. Undeterred, Mr. Ai continues to speak out whenever possible and has an active role in the exhibition of his work abroad. His sculpture group “Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads” is on tour to raise awareness of contested cultural heritage.

The twelve animal heads are inspired by similar bronze sculptures that originally adorned a fountain at the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. In 1860, the fountain heads were looted during the Second Opium War when the palace was sacked by British and French troops. Over the years the heads ended up in several private collections. The two most famous pieces were the Rat and the Rabbit, which were owned by Yves Saint Laurent. After the fashion icon’s death in 2008, they went up for sale at Christie’s along with the rest of his art collection. Their status as war loot was common knowledge and the auction proceeded despite protests from China. Chinese bidder Cai Mingchao staged his own protest by winning the heads (with a bid of $19 million each) and then refusing to pay. They were later repatriated to China in 2013 by billionaire François Pinault. Several more heads from the old fountain remain in private hands outside of China.

Ai Weiwei is well aware of the history of the zodiac heads and that they have become a figurehead for contested cultural property. But true to form, his tour is also meant to highlight the inconsistency, even hypocrisy, of China’s efforts to reacquire its heritage: “They never really care about culture. This is the nature of a communist, to destroy the old world, to rebuild the new one. We’re not clear about what is most important in those so-called traditional classics. The Zodiac is a perfect example to show their ignorance on this matter.” Indeed, countless Chinese cultural property was wantonly destroyed by the Chinese themselves during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960’s. How much more has been sacrificed by China in its transformation into an economic superpower?

Mr. Ai’s “Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads” is actually several sculpture groups on separate tours – the 3-meter tall freestanding Bronze Series and the much smaller Gold Series. One of the Bronze Series is currently on display in Chicago. I visited them earlier this fall (see photos). They are aptly placed facing the Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s scenic lakefront, where they will remain on display until April 2015. A Gold Series is currently part of a large Ai Weiwei retrospective exhibit at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, UK. For more information on the “Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads” tour and the artist himself, please visit the following link: http://www.zodiacheads.com/index.html.

July 4, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Aleksandra Sheftel on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel"

Aleksandra Sheftel's article on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel" is published in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of the Journal of Art Crime.
Abstract: The state of Israel has numerous historically and culturally significant archaeological sites. Some of these date back to as early as 8000-7000 B.C, and are important to three of the world’s great religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Unfortunately, many of these sites are targeted by looters who illegally excavate the sites and, in doing so, erase history. This paper is an overview of the antiquities looting problem in Israel. It discusses Israel’s existing laws regarding the antiquities trade, describes the effects that Israel’s wars have had on the illicit antiquities trade, and the different motivations and attitudes of the looters in Israel. The paper also discusses the market players in this trade, analysing the roles the middlemen, the dealers, and the collectors play. It discusses who the looters are, why they engage in their illicit activities, and how they go about their business. The paper discusses ways in which the Israeli government has tried to stop the trade in illicit antiquities, and the debates that surround these and other proposed solutions. The paper concludes by analysing three alternative solutions that Israel could consider implementing in order to curb the looting.
Aleksandra Sheftel graduated “With Distinction” from the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection in 2011.