K-pop sensation BTS has launched Connect, BTS—a new art project curated by the band featuring the work of 22 artists around the world. It will be exhibited in five different cities, starting in London today, before being unveiled in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York.
Each temporary exhibition showcases the work of an artist who has been invited by BTS to be featured in the project. It aims to “redefine the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice,” the project’s website says.
The artistic director of Connect, BTS—Daehyung Lee—was previously the curator of the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017.
The first exhibition in the series—titled Catharsis—was unveiled today at London’s Serpentine Galleries, featuring the work of Jakob Kudsk Steensen. The Danish artist received a personal invitation letter and video call from the band to join the project, according to its website.
“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,” BTS explained in the invitation letter.
Steensen develops virtual reality and video installations, looking at the interaction between imagination, technology and ecology.
Catharsis sees the artist showcase a virtual forest that has developed undisturbed over a century, featuring a virtual ecosystem and an audio backdrop of sounds gathered from several forests in North America.
The installation has been set up as a single continuous shot moving from the watery underground roots of the forest to the vantage point of the canopy, embodying the artist’s concept of “slow media,” according to the website.
“Catharsis, a work that connects nature with technology and people with nature, had us thinking of the connections between past, present and future. As lovers of nature, we greatly enjoyed and were deeply touched by the scenery from our recent trips,” the band said.
Those who can’t visit the exhibition can get a taste of the experience in a video at the website catharsis.live. The video has a cinematic feel, featuring an immersive walk through a forest with a surround sound of calming nature calls, from the soothing trickling of water streams and birdsong to crackling trees and rustling leaves.
The project has received much attention on social media with BTS fans posting their first impressions and excitement for the project using the hashtag #Connect_BTS, which has been trending on Twitter, along with several other related hashtags and terms.
“I just searched about catharsis and wow… this is such an experience #CONNECT_BTS,” wrote @parkjmfairy.
“This is truly amazing #CONNECT_BTS,” described @kimsnowtae.
“This is such an intelligent way to incorporate various art forms … #BTS is here redefining artistry at its best. #CONNECT_BTS Thank you @bts_bighit @BTS_twt,” wrote @AdtMrs.
“#CONNECT_BTS is the rebirth of The Renaissance & @BTS_twt is the modern The Medici. BTS using their influence to bring forth this Modern Renaissance.++,” wrote @Awake_Aileen.
“This is one of Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s artwork, listen while wearing a headphone, it’s so calming. it makes as if i was in a forest. #CONNECT_BTS,” wrote @TAEHYUNGNOTE.
Catharsis will be available for viewing in London until March 6.
BTS has gone from strength to strength since its debut in 2013, smashing a string of music records on Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Twitter, Guinness World Records and the Billboard music charts.
Its next album—BTS MAP OF THE SOUL: 7—is slated for release on February 21, with pre-orders available now.