The beautiful Nefertiti – Who owns her? | DW Documentary

The bust of Queen Nefertiti is a big attraction in Berlin. But on the Nile, she’s sorely missed. The matter of ownership seems to be clear, formally at least. But since 1924, both Egypt and France have been demanding the return of the artwork.

One of Egypt’s best-known artefacts is also Germany’s best-known museum icon: The bust of Queen Nefertiti at the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. The bust was discovered in 1912 by the German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt, who brought it straight to Berlin. To this day, it has never been on show in Egypt. Formally, everything appears to be in order: finds were divided up in strict accordance with the law. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation – the German government’s museum authority — continues to assert this, but there are doubts. What role did the colonial context play? Were the laws in force at the time deliberately contravened?

The documentary hears from art historian Bénédicte Savoy, who has spent many years examining how finds were distributed, and the Franco-German row over the iconic bust. In Paris archives, she reconstructs the tug-of-war that’s been going for years. Savoy is also interested in the processes of cultural appropriation, which extend into modern pop culture.

In addition to the German perspective, the film also hears from Egyptian commentators. They speak about the bust’s painful absence, and discuss the significance of Pharaonic art in modern Egyptian society. How has Egypt’s view of expressions of Ancient Egyptian culture been changed through their absence? The debate over Nefertiti is ongoing. What should happen to her now? And who should decide?

#documentary #dwdocumentary #egypt #berlin

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