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BTS’ ‘Connect’ global art project kicks off in Seoul
The “Connect, BTS” exhibition opens Tuesday at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The “Connect, BTS” exhibition opens Tuesday at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (Yonhap)

BTS’ global art project “Connect, BTS” has landed in Seoul, combining music and art with the group’s philosophy.

The press event for the Korean leg of the exhibition was held Tuesday at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in downtown Seoul, the fourth destination of the project following London, Berlin and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The exhibition involves 22 artists and curators across five cities around the world who resonate with BTS’ philosophy centering on diversity, love and care.

Spearheaded by Lee Dae-hyung, the chief curator of the joint project, the Seoul exhibition features artworks by Kang Yiyun, the only Korean artist to join “Connect,” and Brussels-based light artist Ann Veronica Janssens. 

Kang worked on “Beyond the Scene,” billed as a reimagining of BTS’ signature dance movements seen through the techniques of projection mapping. Janssens presented “Green, Yellow, Pink,” an installation of a disorienting fog-filled environment in which visitors can walk through colored artificial mist, as well as “Rose,” which creates a star by using seven pink-hued lights.

Kang, who attended the press event with Lee, had focused on BTS’ global fandom Army in her creative process.

“I wasn’t a fan of BTS at first, to tell the truth, so I had to understand what truly enabled BTS’ mainstream success that extends beyond music. So I interviewed about 15 Armys in London to get the grasp of it,” said the London-based artist.

“As I got to know their tight relationship with BTS and how the group affected fans’ lives, my affection toward the project grew bigger. As an Asian woman in London, I felt great satisfaction with BTS’ global influence. This whole project wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for BTS, who connected people all around the world with their sincere, honest message.”

Kang studied the group’s choreography by watching music videos and performances, to incorporate the band’s identity into an installation.

Her work, titled after the group’s brand identity, features seven shadows of men dancing behind a screen. Their gripping movements represent Army’s unique connection to BTS, Kang explained. 

While she has not met BTS in person for the collaboration, she recalled that the joint project valued each artist’s freedom and expression.

Curator Lee also said “Connect” was all about creating something new. “It really changed the whole shape of art galleries, which were usually frequented by art officials only. With the project, we now see visitors from various backgrounds and ages, such as Armys who have been visiting the exhibitions and expressing their gratitude,” he said.

“There are rare cases of music and art’s successful collaboration. If art is a ‘boat,’ music will be ‘water,’ and same for vice versa. We tried to exchange each sphere’s inspiration while respecting and keeping their identities,” he added.

The first “Connect, BTS” project opened at London’s Serpentine Gallery earlier in January, with its last leg set to land in New York on Tuesday.

The Seoul exhibition runs until March 20, free of charge.

BTS is set to drop the album “Map of the Soul: 7” on Feb. 21.
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