Benin1897.com

1897.com,Installation view, terracotta, Animal Horn, paper, beads, inlaid Brass and copper, Variable size; display of 1000 heads, 2009-2010, © Peju Layiwola


Benin 1897.com is my first solo exhibition in Nigeria.  It references the British expedition to Benin where thousands of works of art were looted from the palace of His royal Highness, Oba Ovoranmwen in 1897. This exhibition adds its voice to the debate on Benin contested patrimony and discusses issues about identity, copyright, and ownership of Benin looted objects.  Benin represents the venue of the attack, 1897, the date and ‘.com’ like the domain name .commercial, alludes to commerce as the main reason  Benin was sacked.    .com also refers to the commodification of Benin objects which now attracts huge amounts at international auctions without recourse to the royal family of Benin. This exhibition was shown in two university campuses; Universities of Lagos and Ibadan in 2010.  It has a 216 page catalogue with articles from several distinguished African and Africanist scholars amongst whom are Kwame Opoku, Sylvester Ogbechie, Freida High, and Folarin Shyllon.  The foreword is written by His royal Majesty, Omo N,Oba N,Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa of Benin


Benin1897.com: Art and the Restitution Question

8 April-30 May, 2010
University of Lagos Main Auditorium Gallery.
University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria


20 August-10 October, 2010
Museum, Institute of African Studies,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.



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Chequered history. © Peju Layiwola
Close of view of Oba gha topere, (Long Live the King,) painted gourds, © Peju Layiwola
Work in progress, In Praise of God, copper foil, 200cm by 97cm© Peju Layiwola
Face Off, terracotta and bronze. Peju Layiwola and Igun Brasscasters, Ine N'Igun palace, Igun Street, Benin City, 2014. ©Peju Layiwola
Oba gha topere, (Long Live the King,) painted gourds. ©Peju Layiwola
Taking a plaster mould. ©Peju Layiwola
Presentation during the opening of Benin1897.com. ©Peju Layiwola
Presentation, Opening, Lagos, 2010. ©Peju Layiwola
Opening exhibition, 2010, Lagos. ©Peju Layiwola
Former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos and his team at the exhibition