After much speculation, BTS has finally unveiled Connect, BTS, a global art initiative that seeks to “redefine the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice.”
Part of their comeback schedule for Map of the Soul: 7, on January 14, BTS announced the formal launch of the project on the group’s official Twitter. “Connect, BTS. It starts now,” the tweet read in Korean, including hashtags for the project’s locations (which include London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York City).
On its official website, Connect, BTS is described as “a global project to connect five cities and twenty-two artists, each of whom contributes their unique philosophy and imagination to it.” The project is also referred to as “a collective curatorial practice by curators around the world who resonated with BTS' philosophy.”
Prior to its official unveiling, BTS had teased the project with a number of selcas on Twitter that displayed various clues in the background. Centered around “hyperconnectivity,” Connect, BTS is art directed by leading South Korean curator Daehyung Lee. Back in 2014, Ocula Magazine described Lee’s approach to art as fresh, and able to “combine the philosophical with the harsh realities of both patriarchal societies and the hyper-narratives of today’s technological world.”
It looks like Daehyung Lee might have hinted at his venture with BTS back in June 2019. In an interview with My Art Guides, the curator mentioned the group when illustrating the interconnectedness of the world, and how this affects the way we perceive and consume art.
“We are all connected 24/7 through our mobile phones and SNS, so technological literacy is a key issue,” Lee explained. He then, in a very Jin-like manner, asked the interviewer whether they were familiar with BTS. “That’s because we are surrounded by the same technological landscape,” he then went on to explain. “So our path to understanding the world is different; that’s why yesterday we were talking about how the transnational situation, conditions and conflicts impact curatorial issues in many countries, but tomorrow we’ll talk more about transgenerational issues because technology is fast erasing all the boundaries. Then I discovered some similarities between art and technology, because technology also can transcend all the boundaries.”
For now, and in accordance with the schedule Big Hit had released, the only location available for fans to explore is London. From today, January 14, until March 6, fans can explore the work of Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen at London’s very popular Serpentine Galleries.
Jakob’s selected work is Catharsis, an immersive simulation and reimagining of an ancient forest, which blurs the boundaries of the technological and primitive worlds. Visitors can visit Jakob’s forest, created in tandem with collaborator Matt McCorkle, online via catharsis.live, but don’t plan your trek to London just yet! According to Serpentine’s website, the piece will come to life with an outdoor installation at London’s Kensington Gardens starting on January 28.
In addition to highlighting the artwork, BTS also conducted a video interview with Jakob, where both parties delved deeper into the meaning of Catharsis as well as the larger significance of a project such as Connect, BTS.
“Your participation helps complete Connect, BTS as a global project that engages artists and curators around the world to connect share, and exchange messages that resonate widely,” BTS wrote in their invitation letter to Jakob, which is also available on the project’s site. “As individuals, we come from diverse backgrounds, speak different languages, and have unique life experiences. Music and fine art may appear to be disparate worlds, but we are confident that this project will be an opportunity to appreciate diversity, develop a rapport, and reaffirm our shared message of positivity.”
To coincide with the launch, and as Buzzfeed UK and BBC Entertainment reported on Twitter, BTS held a video conference that was shown in London. There, artist Tomás Saraceno, whose work RM had previously praised during one of his VLIVE broadcoasts, revealed his ambitions to send out a fully sun-powered sculpture from London to Seoul in the span of nine days as part of Connect, BTS — which will fittingly be called “Project K-Hop.”
Connect, BTS's next installment will be in Berlin’s Gropius Bau Gallery from January 15 to February 2, followed by an edition in Buenos Aires from January 21 until March 22. Then it’s on to Seoul from January 28 until March 20, and NYC from February 5 to March 27. According to fans who attended London’s opening, the Connect, BTS website will show exclusive video commentary from Bangtan’s members when visitors are on location.
Connect, BTS is said to showcase the work of 22 artists in total — including Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Tomás Saraceno, Ann Veronica Janssens, Sir Anthony Mark David Gormley, and, per Buzzfeed, Yiyun Kang.
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