Thursday 9 April 2015

Mr Cuno opposes "Wonton Destruction"

Dumpling logic from museum 'professionals'
More junk journalism on Middle Eastern artefacts: Julia Lowrie Henderson, 'With ISIS destroying priceless artifacts in Iraq, some museums are hesitant to return looted artifacts' Studio 360 April 08, 2015.
Graphic images of looting and vandalism committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have caused outrage around the world. Meanwhile, the destruction has sparked a serious and immediate debate among museum directors, scholars and archaeologists about what to do with art and artifacts from that region.[...] Some officials, such as James Cuno, president of the trust that runs the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, are beginning to reconsider whether it’s advisable to repatriate a priceless artifact to [the embassy of] a war-torn place like Iraq. Cuno argues that the policy set up by UNESCO in 1970 is flawed. Under that convention, countries voluntarily agreed to try to prevent the looting and selling of cultural property, and if a nation’s artifacts were removed illegally, foreign museums were obliged to repatriate them. But, says Cuno, UNESCO “tries to encourage the repatriation of objects claimed by nation states simply because they claimed them, and not because there is evidence that they have been removed illegally or inappropriately.”
Nonsense. Where us that set down as an official UNESCO policy? That quite simply is not true. The 1970 UNESCO Convention has absolutely no such clause. The claims of Greece for the Parthenon Marbles, Egypt and Turkey for their stuff back come from the governments and people of those countries, not UNESCO. Lets have less of this antiquitist "truthiness" and more of the truth.
Cuno thinks the terrorist group ISIS presents a special paradox, because it appears to destroy some artifacts and sell others to raise money for its cause. While “no responsible museum is buying anything that might possibly have come from Syria or Iraq,” Cuno says, he wonders if that’s the right approach. “There might be a possibility that these things should be taken into protective custody by responsible museums around the world until they can be returned.” [...] Cuno says if all museums work to protect these artifacts, we’re less in danger of losing them. “September 11 taught us that wonton destruction can occur in New York City,” he says. “It can occur in the places in which we have the most confidence — but it’s not likely to occur in all these places simultaneously.”
So the Getty's president is willing to contemplate contributing financially to the ISIL cause to save some decontextualised hunks of carved stone from unevacuated museums in ISIL control? Or does he want to use this crisis to justify buying fresh dugups otherwise unavailable? Because of course what he does not say is the reason why US museums might have to agree to repatriation is because any stuff they have should not be there in the first place. The material coming from looting after introduction of sanctions in Iraq in the 1990s (and any looting taking place in Syria at the same time) is there illegally. Material coming from looting under US/coalition control in Iraq (and any contemporary looting in Syria) is there illegally. Any stuff coming from looting and thefts in more rerecent years from both countries would be there illegally. Now Mr Cuno and his mates are trying to justify holding on the such illegal stuff? Truth, Justice and the American Way?

The word is "wanton", wonton is a dumpling.

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