Rare North Korean Art Alights in Switzerland, Oldest Human Burial in Africa Discovered, and More: Morning Links from May 6, 2021

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The Headlines

RESEARCHERS HAVE DISCOVERED THE OLDEST known human burial in AfricaNational Geographic reports. Uncovered in Kenya, the roughly 80,000-year-old site is the resting place of a child of 2 or 3. Archaeologists believe the child was buried in a shroud, with a pillow under their head. Older human burials have been discovered elsewhere, like some dating back more than 90,000 years in Israel. “Early African burials are especially rare despite the fact that Africa is the birthplace of our species,” Nicole Bovin, the head investigator on the project, told the Guardian. “This almost certainly reflects biases in where research has been done—the regions where earlier burials have been found have been much more extensively researched than Africa.”

THE SWISS ART COLLECTOR AND RETIRED DIPLOMAT ULI SIGG is showcasing his collection of North and South Korean art at the Kunstmuseum Bern in neutral Switzerland. Sigg began acquiring North Korean pieces, which rarely appear beyond its borders, while Swiss ambassador to the country. Putting together the exhibition has been a thorny process, the New York Times reports. The North Koreans complained about a (rather ominous) watercolor of the nation’s current leader, Kim Jong-un , examining two great white sharks, Sigg said, and lawmakers in the South accused a foundation funding the project of promoting Northern propaganda. In any case, it came together, and runs through September. It’s a big year for Sigg, who donated a bounty of contemporary Chinese art to the M+ museum in Hong Kong, which will open later this year.

The Digest

This week, ARTnews is publishing interviews that Museum of Fine Arts Boston curator Liz Munsell and writer and musician Greg Tate conducted with associates of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The talks were held in conjunction with a show they organized at the MFA Boston, “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation,” which is on view through July 25. First up in the series: Fab 5 Freddy and Lee Quiñones in a two-part discussion. [ARTnews: Part 1  and Part 2]

The Istanbul Biennial, which had been set to open its latest edition in September, said that it will delay its opening by a year. A statement from its organizers cited “the gravity of the ongoing health crisis in many regions around the world and the uncertainty of the coming months.” [ArtReview]

“Although the Oval Office is perhaps not often thought of as an ultra-high-profile rotating exhibition space, in one narrow sense, that is exactly what it is,” journalists Larry Buchanan and Matt Stevens write in a close read of the art that President Biden is displaying in his workplace. [The New York Times]

The photographer Deana Lawson was profiled by Jenna Wortham in a story with portraits of the artist by Lyle Ashton Harris. [The New York Times Magazine]

The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles has launched what it’s calling the Hammer Channel, a collection of its archived talks, performances, and other events going back more than 15 years. It’s available on the its website and YouTube[Los Angeles Times]

The Kicker

WHATEVER YOU THINK ABOUT DAMIEN HIRST, you have to admire his worth ethic. The artist just sold $22.4 million worth of prints in a six-day sale, he’s at work on an NFT project called The Currency, and he’ll do an exhibition of 30 of his huge new paintings of cherry blossoms this summer at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. (It’s his first museum show in France, oddly enough.) The Financial Times sat down with Hirst, and he had this to say about his effervescent new works: “ I definitely wanted to create an all-enveloping visual experience that just gets hold of you, whether you like it or not. I wanted to bypass all your judgement faculties and just get hold of you, internally.” [Financial Times]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Here’s what we’re reading this morning.Read MoreARTnews, News, archaeology, Jean-Michel Basquiat, NFTs, Uli SiggARTnews.comRead More

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