Korean pop superstars BTS helped launch a global public art project in London on Tuesday inspired by their message of inclusivity and involving renowned artists including Antony Gormley and Tomas Saraceno.
The K-pop septet has teamed up with an array of artistic talent from around the world to help forge a series of contemporary exhibits going on display in five cities across four continents.
The project — “Connect, BTS” — used the boy band’s support for “diversity, love and care for the periphery” as the starting point for the series of disparate multi-disciplinary artworks.
They will be complemented by video messages introducing the piece recorded by BTS.
“We’re very excited and really happy to be part of this project,” said band member RM — real name Kim Namjoon — at a launch event at London’s Serpentine Galleries, where one of the exhibits was unveiled.
“We have always been inspired by the ability of music to communicate across borders and barriers which is not very different from what art does,” added band mate Suga, as they joined via live video-link from the South Korean capital Seoul.
BTS, the first K-pop group to top charts in the US and Britain, has seen its global profile surge in recent years.
They completed a lucrative world tour in 2019 before performing in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
The floppy-haired musicians, all in their 20s and often sporting earrings and lipstick, have built a predominantly youthful fan base on a message of self-acceptance and tolerance.
The curators of “Connect, BTS” hope to tap into their huge online profile and tens of millions of followers on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter.
“This project will encourage appreciation of diversities and establish ground for great new synergies to be born,” said its art director Daehyung Lee.
‘Out of their silos’
The various artworks will go on show in the Korean and British capitals, as well as in Berlin, Buenos Aires and New York.
The London offering, “Catharsis”, by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, features an audio-visual simulation of a re-imagined old-growth forest portrayed in a single continuous camera shot.
It can be seen at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park until March 15.
Meanwhile in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park, British artist Gormley has crafted 18 kilometres (11 miles) of looping and coiling aluminium into a vast “drawing in space” which will be unveiled on February 4 and remain there until March 27.
“This is a really wonderful example of, in a way, people jumping out of their silos and in a sense making something that could just be an idea a reality,” Gormley said.
Berlin’s Gropius Bau venue will host its offering, a series of performance works by over 17 international artists, from Wednesday until February 2.
Buenos Aires is set to showcase Argentine artist Saraceno’s “synthesis of art, science and environmental activism” from January 21 for two months.
Meanwhile two works will be unveiled in Seoul at the city’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza between January 28 and March 20.