Although there are conflicting reports

Although there are conflicting reports as to the amount of artworks actually returned to Iraq’s art institutions (it appears that most has been found), I’m still fascinated by the so-called “looting” that happened there under U.S. eyes. In fact, I’m less interested in the fact that U.S. troops did absolutely nothing to prevent or apprehend folks from taking the art. I’m much more fascinated by the fact that Iraqi citizens, in their hour of delight or anger, went to the institution of art to recapture the works that they obviously felt were rightfully theirs.
In the 1980s and some of the 1990s, many art critics and curators attempted to make an argument that art must be “recaptured” or “re-purchased” or “re-claimed” by the community or those outside of the traditional governing infrastructures that hold art in its place. This movement, which I admittedly agreed with to some extent, believed that the commodification of art and its place in the hegemonic order needed to be subverted or relieved or perhaps overturned. I wonder (out loud now) if Iraqis didn’t do just that — they took the artwork that they believed is theirs, and used it for their own needs, goals, and symbolic purposes. Did the Iraqis beat us cowardly Americans to it? Or, rather, are art institutions really the governors of our cultural heritage and does all of this lend less credence to our museums and more to the critics aforementioned? Or, on the other hand, if the “looting” was an inside job, were those people who organized the stealing of artworks part of a new order of thief that we could see in the West at some point?
Moreover, where are the “radical” art critics and curators who argued for the literal and symbolic recapture of artwork now that we’ve this activity happen under U.S. watch? What do they have to say? I’m on the lookout but I’m open to the possibility that we’ve turned a corner in our relation to art, art history, and the ownership of aesthetics.