Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

K-pop art: BTS team up with big-name creatives to launch global art project

The Korean boy band have enlisted artists such as Antony Gormley and Tomas Saraceno to help them decorate spots in five major cities

Fans started a hashtag to get BTS to perform in the UAE. EPA
Fans started a hashtag to get BTS to perform in the UAE. EPA

BTS are hoping to inject a little 'creative Seoul' into cities around the world with their latest project.

The K-pop group have teamed up with 22 artists to launched a large-scale creative programme, which see works erected in London, Berlin, New York, Buenos Aires and Seoul.

Entitled Connect, BTS, the multidisciplinary project will be partly funded by the boy band's seven members, who have enlisted some of the art world's biggest names for the concept.

British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley will create a giant aluminium coil in the Big Apple, on view next month, while Tomas Saraceno will play with solar power in an installation that sees a human float above the salt flats of Salinas Grandes in a large balloon.

"Today's world is one of hyperconnectivity, yes – but is that always how it feels?" a statement on the BTS, Connect website reads. "BTS the band offers an homage to diversity and originality, a song of special attention to the periphery and the overlooked ... Connect, BTS reaches for a collective experience that might be only the beginning of new communication between art, music and people."

American sound artists Bill Fontana, Korean painter Yiyun Kang and Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, who has crafted a virtual forest now on display in London's Serpentine Gallery, are among the list of creatives taking part in the project, which is being helmed by Korean curator Daehyung Lee.

Every artwork will be free for public viewing, with the group revealing the programme was designed to send a "positive message for the world". Artists were selected that specifically "resonated with the band’s philosophy and principles".

"This project will encourage appreciation of diversities and establish ground for great new synergies to be born," said Lee.

Details of BTS, Connect were revealed in a press conference yesterday, with the band joining from Seoul via a live stream.

"We're very excited and really happy to be part of this project," said band member RM – born Kim Namjoon – at the event, held at the Serpentine Galleries as Steensen's work 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 bandmate Suga.

Joining the contemporary pieces on display in New York, London and Argentina will be two works at Seoul's Dongdaemun Design Plaza as well as a series of performance works at Berlin's Gropius Bau until Sunday, February 2.

"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.

BTS, who are gearing up to embark on their next world tour in April, first formed in Seoul in 2013 and broke through into the US pop market in 2017, becoming the first K-pop group to win a Billboard music award. They have a huge, and very loyal, fan base who are prolific on social media.

The seven-member-strong band – made up of Jimin, J-Hope, Jungkook, Jin, V, Suga and RM – are behind hit singles such as Idol and Boy With Luv while albums Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer both debuted on the US Billboard 200 chart at No 1 in 2018.

In 2018, they became the first Korean pop group to top the Billboard album charts in the US, and sold out a concerts at New York City’s Citi Field and London's Wembley Stadium.

Updated: January 15, 2020 12:42 PM

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