Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS

2020 has so far shown our capability to connect and communicate on an increasingly global scale. In the art world, this is apparent through the number of artists quoting visual languages and practices of their home country, allowing for new collaborations to perpetuate our visual sphere. The K-pop supergroup, BTS (Beyond the Scene), bridged the gap between music and art to connect five cities and twenty-two artists in a global-scale art project: Connect, BTS. Having made waves in the West with their music only recently, the Korean septet instigated Connect, BTS as a means of redefining the relationships between art and music, artist and audience, and theory and practice. With the goal of bringing together communities from various backgrounds, the project set out to define current triumphs of the human race.

Connect, BTS: London

Catharsis, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK, 14th January 2020 – 15th March 2020

The first stage of the Connect, BTS project was opened in London in mid-January, with the Catharsis exhibition in the Serpentine Gallery (Fig. 1 and 2). The exhibition was put together by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, a Danish artist who predominantly works with virtual reality and video installations to rebuild ecological realities and sensory experiences.

Catharsis brings these elements together in order to immerse its audience in a simulated natural environment: an old-growth forest that has remained undisturbed by human impact for over hundreds of years. The installation largely derives from the fieldwork undertaken with his collaborator, Matt McCorkle, in their travels to various forests in North America. McCorkle, who is responsible for the audio in the simulation, aided Steensen’s project by helping to recapture the sounds, sights and textures of these forests in Catharsis. The video is one continuous shot which presents the journey of Steensen’s natural environment in intricate detail, investigating facets of the forest and opening up a discussion of its placing in our future.

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS

Fig.1 – Catharsis by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, 2019-2020. Video installation, dimensions variable. 

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS
Fig. 2 – Catharsis by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, 2019-2020. Video installation, dimensions variable. 

Connect, BTS: Berlin

Rituals of Care, Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany, 15th January 2020 – 2nd February 2020

The next element of the project was a performance series in Berlin (Fig. 3). Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Noémie Solomon, Rituals of Care has been described by its makers as “an ongoing exploration of themes with particular contemporary urgency.”

Rituals of Care, as indicated, was a performance series incorporating multiple interdisciplinary practices from experimental choreography and healing practices, to sonic environments and collective gatherings. The overall premise of the series was to consider the conditions which could bring people together, with emphasis of the environments- both physical and spiritual- which facilitate these meetings. In encompassing an eclectic mix of viewpoints, cultures and themes, the project brought together groups and practices from all over the world under the aim to unite people in “acts of care and repair.”

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS

Fig. 3 – The Night has Ears by Jelili Atiku, 2020. Performance art, dimensions variable.

Connect, BTS: Buenos Aires

Fly with Aerocene Pacha, BACentro Cultural Kirchner (CCK), Buenos Aires, Argentina, 21st January – 22nd March 2020

The third instalment of Connect, BTS took place in Buenos Aires, where Tomás Saraceno brought to fruition Fly with Aerocene Pacha (Fig. 4). Based in Argentina, Saraceno is an artist noted for his interactive, floating sculptures, and setting up large networks of collaborators to fulfil his projects.

Fly with Aerocene Pacha engages with the current issue of climate emergency by forming an artistic community that works towards projects with a greater sensitivity to with the environment. The premise of the project was to construct a fuel-free hot air balloon which could provide an example of sustainable flight without presenting a human footprint on the planet. As such, the balloon had no reliance on fossil fuels, batteries, lithium, solar panels, helium, hydrogen or carbon emissions. Flight began in an unspecified location in Salinas Grandes, Argentina, and lasted for one hour and twenty-one minutes. The project went on to set six world records. 

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS

Fig. 4 – Fly with Aerocene Pacha by Tomás Saraceno, 2020. Hot air balloon, dimensions variable.

Connect, BTS: Seoul

Green, Yellow and Pink and Beyond the Scene, DDP Design Exhibition Hall, Seoul, South Korea, 28th January 2020 – 20th March 2020

Whilst this exhibition has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19, organisers have confirmed that it will be reopened when it is safer to hold public gatherings. Green, Yellow and Pink (Fig. 5) is an installation created by Ann Veronica Janssens, an artist noted for her experimental works which emphasise spaces through light, sound and artificial fog.

Green, Yellow and Pink debuted in Berlin in 2017, and the Seoul exhibition acts as an extension of Janssens’s previous work with colour and light. Through the use of coloured mists, the installation aims to create a fluid experience of viewing- effectively breaking down the barrier between artwork and viewer.

The exhibition also featured work by Korean artist, Yiyun Kang, who installed Beyond the Scene (Fig. 6). The artwork is a reimagination of BTS’s signature choreographies, layering sequences of dance moves in large-scale projections to highlight their energy in an abstracted form. Dancers located behind white fabric aid in the depiction of movement, illustrating how BTS has taken part in pushing the boundaries of our current cultural climate.

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS
Fig. 5 – Green, Yellow and Pink by Ann Veronica Janssens, 2017. Coloured mists, dimensions variable.

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS
Fig. 6 – Beyond the Scene by Yiyun Kang, 2020. Projection mapping installation (including 4 projections) and recorded sound, 8 x 8 x 4 m.

Connect, BTS: New York

New York Clearing, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 3, Brooklyn, New York, USA, 5th February 2020 – 27th March 2020

The final location was New York, where Antony Gormley unveiled New York Clearing (Fig. 7). Gormley is globally renowned for sculpture, installation and public artworks which investigate the relationship between the human body and the space it inhabits. As with many of the other artworks involved in Connect, BTS, Gormley’s addition assesses where humans stand in relation to nature and allows its viewers to meditate on this relationship.

New York Clearing is essentially a quantum drawing based on Euclidean geometry; in other words, an architectural structure made from a line that has no beginning or end. Evoking a sense of energy through the interconnection of fluid lines, the installation is a structure which relies on the malleable qualities of it aluminium tubing to convey a sense of rhythm. This rhythm is indicated to reflect those found in music, indicating the ability of various art forms to transcend their perceived limits.

Transcending Practice, Culture and Location: Connect, BTS
Fig. 7 – New York Clearing by Antony Gormley, 2020. Approx. 18km of 24.5mm square section aluminium and steel spigots.

The Connect, BTS project provides a monumental insight into our ability as human being to connect and collaborate across various art forms, practices, cultures and locations to produce impactful results. For those who were previously unaware and want to further investigate the various projects discussed, there is more information and visual media available through the various gallery websites. Interviews between BTS and the artist and curators involved are also available to watch on the Connect, BTS website.



Connect, BTS London: 

Connect, BTS Berlin: 

Connect, BTS Buenos Aires:

Connect, BTS Seoul: 

Connect, BTS New York: 

Written in April 2020

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