A K-Pop Boy Band Is Launching a Wildly Ambitious Public Art Project in Five Cities Across the World

Of course, Hans Ulrich Obrist is also involved.

BTS. Photo by Big Hit Entertainment.

The boy band and global K-Pop sensation BTS is now a public art patron. The group is behind a major commission of 22 artists due to be unveiled in New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Seoul. The unprecedented initiative, dubbed “CONNECT, BTS” launches in London today with the presentation of a digital artwork at the Serpentine Galleries.

Artists involved in the commissions include Antony Gormley, Ann Veronica Janssens, and Tomás Saraceno, among many others. The group has also enlisted the help of leading curators in the five cities, including the Serpentine’s artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist and Stephanie Rosenthal, the director of Berlin’s Gropius Bau.

The projects will be under the overall artistic direction of the Korean curator Daehyung Lee. Each project will also be extensively documented online, including introductory videos to the works recorded by BTS. The group describes its role as “Secret Docents.

“It is a great honor to participate in CONNECT, BTS with such renowned artists and curators from all over the world,” the boy band says in a statement. “This project is especially meaningful to us because it truly represents diversity and creates a collective, positive message for the world that we value. Through this project, we hope to return the great amount of love and support from our fans, ARMY, and all audiences.”

The ambitious project’s artistic director says in a statement: “BTS’s philosophy in the form of support for diversity, and love and care for the periphery is an important motif of the project.” Daehyung Lee adds that art, “whether it consists of sound, sculpture, photography, or another medium,” has the potential “to forge a relationship between artist, viewer, the immediate environment, and the atmosphere which encircles and extends far beyond.”

Here is everything you need to know about the contemporary art-meets-K-Pop commissions.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.

What: The new work by New York-based, Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen called Catharsis is 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.

Where: The Serpentine Galleries, London, or online at catharsis.live

When: January 14–March 15



A.Livingstone, <i>CHAUD, collection of things, actions, relations</i>(2020).

A.Livingstone, CHAUD, collection of things, actions, relations (2020).

What: The Gropius Bau’s Stephanie Rosenthal and Noémie Solomon are co-curating a series of performance works by more than 17 international artists. Called “Rituals of Care,” the program will range from works of experimental choreography and healing ceremonies to sonic environments. The aim is to “explore the necessary conditions for coming together and tending to environments, to physical and spiritual worlds and to other beings.” Featured artists include 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.

Where: Gropius Bau, Berlin

When: January 15–February 2



Tomás Saraceno, Fly with Aerocene Pacha. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015.

Tomás Saraceno, Fly with Aerocene Pacha. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015.

What: In solidarity with the indigenous communities of Argentina’s great salt lake, Salinas Grandes, the Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno is presenting a project titled Fly with Aerocene Pacha. The land of Salinas Grande is at increasingly threatened by mining for lithium, which is a raw material in batteries. Combining art, science, and environmental activism, Saraceno aims to set new world records by send a human being floating into the sky without fossil fuels, solar panels, batteries, or helium, but powered only by “the sun and air we breathe.” A film of the happening will be shown in Buenos Aires.

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina, and on Instagram, and online

When: January 21–March 22



Yiyun Kang, Beyond the Scene. Yiyun Kang Continuum. Render images, projection mapping installation, 2020.

Yiyun Kang, Beyond the Scene. Yiyun Kang Continuum. Render images, projection mapping installation, 2020.

What: Two major exhibitions will be shown in a public plaza in Seoul designed by the late Zaha Hadid. The Brussels-based, Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens will present a disorienting sensory environment created with colored artificial mist titled Green, Yellow, Pink. The Korean artist Yiyun Kang will present a large-scale digital work using projection mapping that reimagines some of BTS’s signature dance moves.

Where: Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea

When: January 28–March 20



Antony Gormley, Rendering of New York, Clearing 2020.

Antony Gormley, Rendering of New York, Clearing (2020).

What: The British sculptor Antony Gormley will create a vast “drawing in space” titled New York Clearing (2020). The work will be formed by an 11-mile-long single line of square aluminum tubing, which will loop and coil without beginning or end. The swooping work aims to provide a foil to the Modernist grid of the city. 

Where: Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 3, New York

When: February 4–March 27

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