Home Interior Design Sculpture depicting King Tut as a black man sparks international outrage

Sculpture depicting King Tut as a black man sparks international outrage

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What were the ancient Egyptians like? A new exhibition at National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands, caused controversy by including a contemporary piece of artwork that appears to depict the pharaoh Tutankhamun in black.

Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funkcombines Egyptian antiquities from the museum’s collection with works inspired by ancient Egyptian culture created by musicians from the African diaspora, including Miles Davis, Erykah Badu, Beyoncé and Rihanna.

The Leiden exhibition recognizes that while generations of black musicians drew their strength and autonomy from ancient Egyptian culture, the racial identity of ancient Egyptians was a hot topic of debate for decades.

The show’s title comes from the ancient Egyptians’ name for their homeland, Kemet, which means “black land”. But, the exhibit explains, the color referred to the rich, dark soil of the Nile Valley, rather than people’s skin tones. The museum also dismisses the theory that the noses on many ancient Egyptian statues were severed in modern times in order to visibly mask African features.

David Cortes, <em>i am hip hop</em> (2019).  Photo courtesy of National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden.” width=”1024″ height=”690″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/JOf9vKHjZ1l60usip2csDAPx3fH6wxEoIc1aThOc 2023 /05/JOf9vKHjZ1l60usip2csDAPx3fH6wxEoIc1aThOc-1536×1034.jpeg 1536w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/JOf9vKHjZ1l60usip2csDAPx3fH6wxEoIc1aThOc-2 048×1379.jpeg 2048w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news -upload/2023/05/JOf9vKHjZ1l60usip2csDAPx3fH6wxEoIc1aThOc-50×34.jpeg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/JOf9vKHjZ1l60usip2csDAPx3fH6wxEoIc1aThOc -1920×1293.jpeg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px ) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=David Cortes, i am hip hop (2019). Photo courtesy of National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden.

“It’s a very difficult subject and that’s the problem with this exhibition: I think it really needs to be given a chance,” said Daniel Soliman, the museum’s Egyptian and Nubian curator. The arts journal. “There are Egyptians, or Egyptians in the Diaspora, who believe that the pharaonic heritage belongs exclusively to them. The subject of the imaginary of ancient Egypt in music, mainly from the African diaspora, black artists of different styles, jazz, soul, funk, hip-hop, had long been ignored.

Nevertheless, the thesis of the exhibition aroused negative reactions, in particular because of the statue of David Cortes, i am hip hop. The 2019 sculpture is based on the 1999 album Nas I am…in which the African-American rapper was photographed to look like King Tut’s famous mask.

An outraged article titled “Dutch Museum Says Tutankhamun Was Black” in the Independent Egypt cited a complaint from Egyptian antiquities expert Abd al-Rahim Rihan. Not only does the statue misrepresent the race of King Tut, he claimed, but the artist actually created an unauthorized copy of an Egyptian antiquity, which can only be produced by the Supreme Council of Antiquities of the Nation under Article 39 of Law No. 39 on the Protection of Antiquities. 117 of 1983.

The claim would have triggered an official investigation by Ahmed Bilal al-Burlusy, a member of the House of Representatives, into whether Cortes violated Egyptian law. (The piece is a contemporary work of art, not a replica, the museum said in a statement.)

But the exhibit has also fueled long-running arguments about racial identity and cultural appropriation, including on the Facebook group Defenders of Egyptian Historywho describes himself as “defending Egyptian history and heritage against the vultures of Afrocentric culture”.

There has also been a flurry of one-star reviews for the museum on Google, calling it a “woke museum with no scientific credentials and heavily under the influence of Afrocentrism” that “are forgers who steal the history of civilization Egyptian and attribute it to black African[s].”

“The exhibition does not claim that the ancient Egyptians were black, but explores the music of black artists who refer to ancient Egypt and Nubia in their work: music videos, album covers, photos and works of contemporary art,” said museum director Wim Weijland. “The exhibition also acknowledges that music can be seen as cultural appropriation and recognizes that large groups of contemporary Egyptians feel that the pharaonic past is exclusively their heritage.”

Adele James, une actrice britannique noire, joue Cléopâtre dans <em>Queen Cleopatra</em>.  Photo courtesy of Netflix.  ” width=”768″ height=”960″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/FtiXgDJWABoHZpb.jpeg 768w, https://news.artnet.com/app /news-upload/2023/05/FtiXgDJWABoHZpb-240×300.jpeg 240w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2023/05/FtiXgDJWABoHZpb-40×50.jpeg 40w” sizes=”(max-width : 768px) 100vw, 768px”/></p>
<p id=Adele James, a black British actress, plays Cleopatra in Queen Cleopatra. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

The question of the race of the ancient Egyptians has also caused an uproar over the new Netflix documentary-drama series produced by Jada Pinkett-Smith. African Queens: Queen Cleopatra and his portrayal of the famous ruler by black actress Adele James. (An Egyptian lawyer even pushed to block the series from airing in the African nation, and an Egyptian network announced plans for its own documentary featuring a light-skinned Cleopatra.)

“Netflix tries to confuse people by spreading false and misleading facts that the origin of Egyptian civilization is black,” said former Egyptian minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass. al-Masry al-Youm log. “That’s completely untrue. Cleopatra was Greek, which means she was light-skinned, not black.

Cleopatra was the last reign of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a kingdom ruled by Greeks descended from the Macedonians, but her family had been in Egypt for 300 years and nothing is known of her maternal ancestry.

“During filming, I became the target of a huge online hate campaign. Egyptians accused me of ‘laundering’ and ‘stealing’ their history,” series director Tina Gharavi wrote in Varietyarguing that James was probably more accurate casting than white Elizabeth Taylor, who played the Queen in 1963.

“Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melancholy sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? asked Gharavi. “His closeness to whiteness seems to give him value, and for some Egyptians that seems really important.”

“Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk” is on display at the National Museum of Antiquities, Rapenburg 28, 2311 EW Leiden, The Netherlands, from April 22, 2023 to September 3, 2023.

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