K-Pop is on a mission to take over the world. And on this mission, the latest ally is contemporary art, with South Korean boyband BTS sprearheading a wildly ambitious global public art initiative that aims to excite its millions of fans and bring in new ones.
In January, the band initiated the project, known as CONNECT, BTS. The stars commissioned 27 artists to create projects in five cities around the world, all in a humble bid “to redefine the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice.”
The results have been astonishing. BTS has a global fanbase of millions, nicknamed ARMY, and these dedicated troops have been bonding with art lovers around the world. When the superstars lent their name to an art project by Tomás Saraceno, more than 500 die-hard fans turned up to the remote, off-the-grid location of Argentina’s great salt lake in Jujuy to mix with indigenous tribes and celebrate the artist’s attempt to break six world records. Millions more tuned in to watch online.
The other projects in London, Seoul, Berlin, and New York have had a similarly impressive response. Clearly, the global audience for the K-Pop stars has the potential to bring in a whole new audience to art. See images of the six art projects below.
What: For CONNECT, BTS, Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen showed a new work called Catharsis at the Serpentine Galleries in London. Steensen has created a digital simulation of a re-imagined “old-growth” forest. The simulated landscape is set up as a single continuous shot panning from the roots to the canopy of an ancient forest. BTS fans turned out to the gallery in droves to see the band tune in via livestream to introduce the project.
Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s “Catharsis” is on view at the Serpentine Galleries, London, through March 15.
What: The Gropius Bau’s Stephanie Rosenthal and Noémie Solomon co-curated a series of performance works by more than 17 international artists called “Rituals of Care,” featuring performances of experimental choreography and healing ceremonies to sonic environments. The program aimed to “explore the necessary conditions for coming together and tending to environments, to physical and spiritual worlds and to other beings.” Featured artists included Jelili Atiku, boychild with Josh Johnson and Total Freedom, Cevdet Erek, Marcelo Evelin, Bill Fontana, Maria Hassabi, Mette Ingvartsen with Will Guthrie, Baba Murah and Candomblé Berlin, Antonija Livingstone and Nadia Lauro with Mich Cota, Kennis Hawkins and Stephen Thompson.
“Rituals of Care” was performed at Gropius Bau in Berlin until February 2.
What: The Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno broke six world records with his project Fly with Aerocene Pacha. In solidarity with the indigenous communities of Argentina’s great salt lake, Salinas Grandes, whose land is increasingly threatened by mining for lithium, a raw material in batteries, Saraceno organized the first fully solar powered human flight. Hundreds of BTS fans made the long journey to the remote location to take in the amazing feat.
A series of films chronicling Saraceno’s astonishing flight over the Salinas Grandes are on view at Centro Cultural Kirchner in Buenos Aires through March 22.
What: Two major exhibitions are being shown at Seoul’s Zaha Hadid-designed exhibition hall. The Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens is presenting a disorienting sensory environment of green, yellow, and pink mist. Meanwhile, the Korean artist Yiyun Kang is showing large-scale digital work that uses projection mapping technology to reimagine some of BTS’s signature dance moves.
“Anne Veronica Janssens: GREEN, YELLOW AND PINK” and “Yiyun Kang: BEYOND The SCENE” are on view at DDP Design Exhibition Hall in Seoul, South Korea, through March 20.
What: The British sculptor Antony Gormley has created a massive “drawing in space” titled New York Clearing (2020). The work is made from an 11-mile-long single line of square aluminum tubing, which loops and coils without beginning or end. The swooping work aims to provide a foil to the Modernist grid of New York City.
Antony Gormley’s ‘New York Clearing’ (2020) is on view at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 3, New York through March 27.
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