From today on everybody around the world can access, study, print or remix a 3D dataset of Nefertitis head in high resolution. This data will be accessible without any charge under a public domain as a 100 MB downloadable STL-file.
The Neues Museum in Berlin until today does not allow open access to the data from their scan of the original head. Two German artists assume responsibility to publish the data under a public domain. Therefore they scanned the head of Nefertiti clandestinely in the Neues Museum.
At this link you will find a torrent to access the dataset:
Here you can watch the recorded talk where the data was released at the 32C3 Chaos Communication Congress at 27 Dec 11:30 am: http://streaming.media.ccc.de/32c3/relive/7543/ Hall G
“The Other Nefertiti” is an artistic intervention by Jan Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al- Badri. “With the data leak as a part of this counter narrative within our investigative practice we want to activate the artefact, to inspire a critical re-assessment of today’s conditions and to overcome the colonial notion of possession in Germany” the two artists say.
In the course of the artistic intervention Nefertiti returned to the place where it was found. For the first time since the sculpture was excavated and stolen over 100 years ago, the iconic artefact is shown in Cairo from 30. November on. The artists exhibited in Something-Else Off Biennale in Cairo a 3D-Print made out of this most precise scan ever made public of the original head of Nefertiti. The piece will partly remain in Egypt at the American University in Cairo as a permanent installation.
With regard to the notion of belonging and possession of material objects of other cultures, the artists intention is to make cultural objects publicly accessible and to promote a contemporary and critical approach on how the Global North deals with heritage and the representation of “the other”.
Al-Badri and Nelles collaborated with Dr. Monica Hanna, Egypt’s most renowned Egyptologist when it comes to the illegal trade of antiquities. They intended to overcome the old patterns of redundant struggle between Egypt and Germany on restitution, which only reaffirms existing power structures.
Simon Njami was curating the exhibition of Nelles and Al-Badri. He said: “There is something strange with the dancing mask. When you see it in a European Museum it is not dancing anymore. Therefore I don’t think that Nefertitis head in some German museum is the real one, because as a dancing mask it has lost its meaning. This is the reason why I was interested to give it its reality and Jan Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri gave me that opportunity. Where else than in Cairo could that reality be incarnated?”
The artists chose the Nefertiti, because not only she is an artefact, but also an icon with its own symbolic and social power. They state: “The head of Nefertiti represents all the other millions of looted and sold out artefacts all over the world currently happening for example in Syria, Iraq and in Egypt. Archaeological artefacts as a cultural memory originate for the most part from the Global South, however, a vast number of important objects can be found in Western Museums and private collections. We should face the fact that the colonial structures continue to exist today and still produce their inherent symbolic struggles.”
One can clearly notice the colonial and imperial self-conception of the German museum, which they try to constitute – objects as well as their digital representation remain sealed and are considered legitimate possessions. It occurs what Baudrillard describes about the effects of de-contextualization and abstraction of objects: their function is no longer a utility value but the function of the objects is to be possessed.