Egypt vents fury at German museum for using Nefertiti bust in 'pornographic' video
Thursday 12 June 2003
A decision by German Egyptologists to lend a 3,000-year-old bust of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti for an allegedly "pornographic" exhibit at this year's Venice Biennale has provoked a blistering row between Berlin and Cairo.
The dispute deepened yesterday when Egypt demanded the immediate return of the priceless bust, which has been on show at Berlin's Egyptian museum for almost 90 years. Egypt then declared Dietrich Wildung, the museum's director, persona non grata.
Nefertiti, which means "beauty has arrived", was the wife of the ancient Egyptian ruler Akhenaten, pharaoh in about 1340BC. Her bust, with one eye missing, was discovered by German archaeologists in 1912. A year later it was taken to Berlin, where it has remained one of the city's foremost cultural attractions.
Faruk Husni, Egypt's Minister of Culture, insisted yesterday that the bust was "no longer safe in German hands and must be returned home". He condemned the use of the bust in the Biennale exhibit as "disgusting" and said it was an "insult".
Egypt's anger stems from a decision by Berlin's museum to allow a group of Hungarian artists, called Kish Warsaw, to make a video film of the bust, which shows the head of Nefertiti superimposed on what at first sight appears to be the torso of a naked woman cast in bronze.
To make the video, called Nefertiti's Body, the bust was removed from its glass cabinet for a few hours last month and placed on the bronze torso.
The only people present were Mr Wildung, the two artists and a handful of assistants. "I cannot understand what all the fuss is about," Mr Wildung said. "I personally removed the bust from its case. The whole atmosphere was more like the veneration of Nefertiti than an insult to her. Everyone was awed into silence," he added.
Mr Wildung maintains that the torso on which the bust is superimposed is not naked but covered in a thintransparent robe, which is visible on the original limestone statue. He conceded that in the video no clothing was apparent.
Berlin is unlikely to agree to part with one of its most treasured artefacts. The city authorities argue that an agreement signed between Imperial Germany and Egypt in 1913 gives the bust's German finders the right to keep it for ever.
Mr Wildung has accused the Egyptian side of overreacting. "I receive requests from artists who want to make use of Nefertiti almost monthly. I set the highest standards and I have only allowed it to be used once," he said.
The Venice Biennale begins on Monday.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...