By Ashley Cruz


BTS is taking its fans to an art pilgrimage around the world.

On Jan. 14, the award-winning Korean pop group launched “CONNECT, BTS,” a global collaboration with 22 world-renowned contemporary artists and curators for a series of exhibition in five major cities — London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York.

The official website explains that “CONNECT, BTS” is a global project that “aims to redefine the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice.” It is also a “collective curatorial practice by curators around the world who resonate with BTS philosophy.”

With a vision to nurture communication amid the growing “hyperconnectivity” among people, “CONNECT, BTS” also aims to bridge the gap through art and music. “We connect with people at opposite ends of the world but we sometimes forget to communicate with our own neighbors or relatives,” said Daehyung Lee, artistic director of CONNECT, BTS. “We are losing solidarity, we have forgotten how to communicate properly with each other.”

The collaboration with BTS didn’t come as an overnight plan as Lee, known for creating South Korea’s pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, has been following the band’s journey for years. Through the journey, he realized BTS’s power to communicate with people around the world.

“Their ability to speak meaningfully to people of different cultural backgrounds, social classes, ethnicities, genders and identities speaks in turn to modern art’s long-standing goal to transcend imagined boundaries,” he said.

In a media briefing shown via Instagram Live by Serpentine Galleries, RM, the leader of BTS who is known for his intense love for the arts, said this project was proof of his belief that art can change the world. “It always gives me a whole other world of thrill, shock and inspiration. I hope more people can believe in the power of art, that it can help and change the world.”

The first project in the series is “Catharsis” by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen showcased at Serpentine Galleries. Organized by the gallery curators Ben Vickers and Kay Watson, “Catharsis” is a digital simulation of a re-imagined old, undisturbed forest — the brainchild of Steensen’s month-long field work with sound artist, Matt McCorkle.

Another featured project is a series of art performances by 17 artists at Berlin’s Gropius Bau. Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Noémie Solomon, “Rituals of Care” features “experimental choreography, healing practices, sonic installations and collective gatherings” to explore ways of building and rebuilding oneself.”

As record-breaking as BTS, Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno will attempt a world record with “Fly with Aerocene Pacha,” a “manned-free” first fully solar flight from London to Korea as part of his advocacy to fight climate change. The balloon is made of recycled plastic bags and will run free of toxins such as lithium and fossil fuels.

Two more projects will involve separate shows at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul, featuring the British artist Ann Veronica Janssens known for her light installations and immersive sensory environments, and Korean digital artist, Yiyun Kang, famous for her projection mapping installations.

The most-anticipated in the series is the project of British artist Sir Antony Gormley with his sculpture “New York Clearing (2020),” to be installed at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 3 in New York. The barrier-free installation will use 18 kilometers of aluminum tubing, more than twice the length of the one he used in his recent show at the Royal Academy in London.

Mainly funded by the BTS members, “CONNECT, BTS” brings together visionary artists, creating a movement that encourages interdisciplinary exchange and connecting people in solidarity with nature and culture.

This innovative approach is not only their way of embracing their passion for the arts. It is their way of using their influence to provide a platform for other artists, reeling more people in to experience their vision while providing an avenue for healing through art. They are also changing the way art is consumed by making it accessible to everyone.

“CONNECT, BTS” is part of the pre-comeback roadmap of the band for the upcoming release of their album “Map of the Soul: 7,” which kicked-off in a trailer video for “Interlude: Shadow” by Suga.

All shows are free and will be documented through various digital channels to cater to audiences in different parts of the world.

For more details about the shows and schedule, visit the official website here.