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K-pop band BTS launches global art project

They’re singers, dancers and fashion icons — and now the members of K-pop megaband BTS are venturing into the art world as patrons.

The South Korean boy band has launched “Connect, BTS,” a global public art project involving 22 artists across five cities: London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York.

One of the major public installations will be created by renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley.

Gormley’s project, made of around 60 feet of aluminum tubing, will be unveiled in February at a converted pier in New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park.

According to the “Connect, BTS” website, the project has been developed by international curators who “resonated with BTS’ philosophy” — and a statement suggests the project is about connecting people in a world where people often feel isolated and “alone with their devices.”
British artist Antony Gormley speaks as a monitor live-streams South Korean boyband BTS during the launch of the global public art project "Connect, BTS," at Serpentine Gallery in London on January 14, 2020.

British artist Antony Gormley speaks as a monitor live-streams South Korean boyband BTS during the launch of the global public art project “Connect, BTS,” at Serpentine Gallery in London on January 14, 2020. Credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

“Today’s world is one of hyperconnectivity, yes — but is that always how it feels?” a statement on the site questions. “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.”

The first of five major installations opened Tuesday at London’s Serpentine Galleries, and features a digital installation by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen. Entitled “Carthasis,” the work takes audiences on a virtual journey through an imagined forest that Steensen 3-D scanned.

Visitors are able to view the experiential work for free at the London gallery — or it can be watched online.

“I hope that in the future we become more and more, kind of spiritual creatures with technology as a way of connecting to natural environments,” Steensen told BTS in a short video clip posted on the project’s website.

Another project is set to open Wednesday in Berlin, while artworks in Buenos Aires and Seoul will be unveiled later this month.

BTS has attracted a global fan base in recent years, winning a number of major awards and setting music industry records.

Last year, the seven-member band became only the third group in 50 years to have three number one albums on the Billboard 200 chart in less than 12 months, joining the ranks of The Beatles and The Monkees.

The band is also known for working cultural references into its music. The title of the group’s 2019 album “Map of the Soul: Persona,” for instance, alludes to the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung. BTS fans — known as ARMY — pore over the band’s music videos, dissecting the visuals to find possible hidden meanings.

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Unsurprisingly, members of BTS ARMY have taken to Twitter to praise the new arts initiative. “I love the fact that they are doing this all over the world,” wrote one. “i need a private jet so I can go to all the ‘connect bts’ locations,” wrote another.
And the members of BTS aren’t the only K-pop stars to taking a keen interest in art. In 2016, Big Bang’s T.O.P guest-curated a Sotheby’s art auction that pulled in $17.4 million, and included a 1983 painting by the late American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Top image: BTS performing on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in September 2018.

This article originally appeared here