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Sep 15 2020

K-pop Star Wants to Make Art Books Cool

by Ariana Heffner

KIM NAM-JOON, known as RM, of the K-pop group BTS, standing next to a painting by the Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun. Image via Twitter

The leader of the South Korean boy-band BTS, Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, celebrated his 26th birthday on September 12 with a KRW 100 million (USD 84,730) donation to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Foundation, Korea. According to the Foundation, the proceeds will go towards the production of MMCA’s art publications, some of which are out of print, which will then be donated to public libraries and schools across the country.

The project aims to produce a total of 4,000 copies of eight publications, including catalogues of seven modern and contemporary Korean artists: Kim Whanki, Lee Jung-seob, Pen Varlen, Yoo Youngkuk, Park Naehyeon, Yun Hyong-keun, and Lee Seung-jio. There will also be a volume on MMCA’s major 2020 exhibition, “The Modern and Contemporary Korean Calligraphy,” which aims to introduce the genre to younger viewers. The Korean Herald reported that the books will be distributed to 400 public libraries and schools in October.

MMCA director Youn Bummo expressed his gratitude in a statement, saying, “as he [RM] was able to gain a deeper understanding of art through books, he shared his hope that children and youth who may not find it easy to access museums will be able to easily come into contact with art.” 

The seven-member group BTS, acronym for “Beyond the Scene,” debuted in 2013 and has since become trailblazers by topping music charts and touring internationally. The group has worked on a number of art initiatives this year. On January 14, global project “Connect, BTS” was launched in collaboration with 22 artists spanning London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, and New York, aimed at redefining relationships between multiple art practices. The project has since then exhibited works at institutions such as the Serpentine Galleries, London, and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul. In August, BTS teamed up with Google Arts and Culture for the project “do it (around the world),” an extension of the three-decade long initiative led by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, in which he asks participating artists, musicians, and designers to create simple instructions for viewers to interpret in any shape and form at home. BTS’s instructions emphasized collaboration and going beyond boundaries.

Ariana Heffner is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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