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How RM of K-pop group BTS became one of the art world’s biggest and youngest influencers – The National



As a member of one of the world’s biggest boy bands, BTS’s RM, 28, has amassed an estimated $22 million fortune, according to reports.

But RM, whose initials stand for “Rap Monster” and whose real name is Kim Namjoon, hasn’t taken the traditional wealthy young musician’s route of spending his money on fast cars and big houses.

Instead, he has become one of the art world’s biggest and youngest influencers, putting together a personal collection that includes works by South Korean artist Yun Hyong-keun, American minimalist Joel Shapiro and most recently a $1.2 million sculpture by American multidisciplinary artist Roni Horn.

Instagramming his private collection

For the past few years, RM has been sharing his acquisitions both on Instagram and in videos on YouTube where he maintains a vlog about his life and travels.

“I think young people these days use their Instagram feed to represent themselves,” he told Artnews. “My Instagram account is literally ‘just an archive’ about myself. I’m sure that people are familiar with RM as a public figure on stage … This is an archive for both RM and Kim Namjoon, and I’m also doing it for myself in the future.”

Investing in his financial future has resulted in him travelling the world on art-buying trips. He shared a video in July of his trip to the Art Basel art fair in Switzerland, as well as the Vitra Design Museum, saying: “I’m here to see the chairs.”

Taking in furniture by Eames and Alexander Girard, he also admired work by Tadao Ando and Jean Prouve.

Calling Art Basel the “world’s greatest art fair”, he said: “I’ve been to art fairs in Korea a few times, but I’ve always wanted to visit Art Basel when abroad.”

Championing South Korean artists

Chief among RM’s collection are pieces by South Korean artists. He has shared two pieces he owns by Yun Hyong-keun on social media and champions the work of modernist Lee Bae.

During his trip to Art Basel, he highlighted pieces by Do Ho Suh, Lee Seung Jio, Yoo Youngkuk and Nam June Paik, the latter of whom has emerged as one of the singer’s favourite artists. He also attended the Kukje Gallery in Seoul for a recent Yoo exhibition.

Once you develop your own taste and know what type of art or artist you like, you will have better eyes in discerning them


“I tend to choose an exhibition that is featuring my favourite artist, or a place that I’ve been curious about, such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Glenstone Museum,” he told Artnews. “In Korea, I visit museums that feature the artworks of modern and contemporary Korean artists. When I’m abroad, I choose based on the space and artists themselves.

“I like to think about how different spaces give the artwork a different energy and feeling. When seeing works of Korean artists in foreign countries, nationality doesn’t count so much. But I can definitely say that seeing Yun Hyong-keun’s works at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice and exhibited alongside Donald Judd’s works at the Chinati Foundation left me in awe.”

Inspiring art appreciation in fans and Gen Z

RM sharing his appreciation for art has resulted in an uptick in visitors to the museums and galleries he promotes.

The effect even has a name: “Namjooning”, in which fans, known at the BTS Army, partake in RM’s hobbies and passions and post photos of themselves on social media using the hashtag.

Many establishments have experienced the effects of #namjooning. The Rothko Chapel and The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and contemporary art museum The Broad in Los Angeles have all reported an increase in visitors keen to replicate photos RM posted of himself during his visits.

At Washington National Gallery of Art, after the singer shared a photo of himself sat on a bench alongside a selection of his favourite works — including by Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani and Paul Cezanne — the gallery experienced a huge increase in Instagram followers.

As well as collecting, RM has also stepped into the role of art supporter. In 2020 he donated 100 million South Korean won (about $73,000) to Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) so it could reissue out-of-print art books for libraries. The act resulted in RM being named as Art Sponsor of the Year by Arts Council Korea.

“We are very happy that RM, who has a high global influence, is an art lover,” said the MMCA’s director Youn Bummo in a statement about the donation.

Gaining the respect of the art world

RM told the Intersections: The Art Basel Podcast that his art collection “really gives me a standard by which to live as a better man and a better adult”.

“I just want to make timeless music that I admire,” he said.

Not only has he been able to introduce his legion of fans to contemporary art, he has also earned the admiration of the art world for his knowledge and enthusiasm.

Korean art dealer Park Kyung-mee, who owns the influential PKM Gallery in Seoul, said the singer has made art more accessible to younger people and the public by sharing his experiences on social media and via his vlog. “He is throwing away the kind of barrier between the art institutions — galleries and museums — and younger people.”

RM told The New York Times of his art collection: “I feel like they’re watching me. I’m motivated. I want to be a better person, a better adult, because there is this aura that is coming from these artworks on display. [When I’m feeling] tired or let down, I sometimes stand there and have a conversation.”

Of his future plans for his own public art space, he told the newspaper: “I want it to be really quiet and calm, but it must still look cool. I think that there’s something that I can offer as an outsider of the art industry.”

Updated: September 16, 2022, 4:03 AM

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This project brought art and quirky commentary to Calgary's parking lots –



If you noticed art displays popping up around Calgary this weekend, you weren’t the only one. 

On Saturday and Sunday, Calgary-based artists took over several parking lots with art projects built into and around a number of vehicles that traveled throughout the city. 

The exhibition, dubbed Idle Worship, is a mobile showcase of art and performance in trunks, back seats, box trucks, minivans, and automobiles, designed specifically for the context of parking lots across the greater Calgary area. 

“We dedicate a lot of our cities to roads and parking lots and these spaces, I think, could be more absurd,” said Caitlind Brown, an organizer and part of the artist-driven project.

“[The spaces] could be weirder and come with more conversations.”

The movement brought art to unsuspecting crowds near malls, big-box stores and grocery shops.

Keith Murray’s piece about “neutrality and nothing” was among those that were set up over the weekend. (Helen Pike/CBC)

People were climbing into a U-Haul, peeking in car windows — and jumping into the mouth of an unidentified species. 

Abebe Kebede was just out to grab a coffee with a friend when he noticed something next to him.

While they were chatting in the car, one of the art pieces was set up right beside them. 

“When I saw that [being set up], I thought, ‘what, I have to go see it,'” he said. “It looked like a weird animal’s mouth opening, it’s so amazing, I really like it.”

The exhibit popped up in every one of Calgary’s quadrants.

Idle Worship has a performance art component, too. One artist sat in his vehicle with dirt and flowers, giving the viewers a choice: water the plant or water the boy. 

And there was some tongue and cheek commentary.

Khalid Omokanye said his piece is about ‘greenwashing’, a popular marketing tactic that brands use to give the impression that their business practices are sustainable and fight climate change, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Khalid Omokanye said his piece is about greenwashing— a popular marketing tactic that brands use to give the impression that their business practices are sustainable and fight climate change, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

His project is housed in the back of a pick-up truck.

“I made a little sculpture there, that drops seeds as I am driving, potentially planting a forest in my wake,” he said. “So this vehicle becomes no longer an issue because it plants enough trees to fix its problems.” 

Given the circumstances of the art show, Brown was surprised that there were no issues at all. 

“This has been a remarkably problem-free exhibition, considering we are literally just touching down in parking lots without asking for permission from the property owners, and then getting up and driving away,” she said. 

“The great thing about this exhibition is that if there had been any problems, we could’ve just packed up and left.”

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Vancouver Art Gallery protest condemns Iran regime | CTV News – CTV News Vancouver



An afternoon rally was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery Sunday following the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman while in police custody.

Mahsa Amini died earlier this month in police custody, after being detained by the morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. Her family says she was beaten by police. Officials say she died of a heart attack.

Since her death on Sept. 16, protests and rallies have erupted in Iran and around the world.

“People are frustrated,” said Farad Soofi, an Iranian-Canadian who also attended the UN General Assembly in New York last week to protest the Iranian regime.

“They’re coming to say, ‘We don’t want that regime.’”

Chants of “women, life, freedom” could be heard coming from the crowd.

“It has always been like this in Iran,” said Lena Kruk, who moved to Vancouver from Iran four years ago.

“It is an anti-women kind of regime.”

Clashes between Iranian protesters and security forces have turned deadly, and the government has restricted the population’s internet access to help prevent more demonstrations.

Iranian-Canadian Amir Takbash says he’s been unable to speak with his family.

“It’s really hard. I haven’t heard from my mom for more than a week and it’s really, really hard for us here,” said Takbash.

“You just feel so bad,” said Kruk. “I feel like, you know, I couldn’t stop crying.”

“It’s heartbreaking to not be there with them, to not fight with them,” said Iranian-Canadian Parisa Moshfegh.

“So we’re going to do whatever we can from here.”

Despite living thousands of kilometres away, some in the crowd said they’re still fearful of protesting against the current regime.

“Even in the protest in Vancouver, a lot of people are wearing masks because they are afraid of being recognized. This is how much we are scared of speaking out,” said Moshfegh.

The rally spilled out onto Georgia Street, with thousands of people chanting and holding signs while marching for several blocks.

Vancouver police tweeted that the public should avoid the area as officers work to keep traffic flowing.

Several people at Saturday’s protest told CTV News that more rallies are being planned for next weekend.  

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Montreal percussive dancers step in to tell stories of Black art and history – Montreal Gazette



Children are always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Kayin Queeley says.

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Kayin Queeley expresses himself with his entire body. One can feel his enthusiasm in every sweep of his hand, in the set of his shoulders and the widening of his eyes.

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He uses language that echoes his passion in phrases like “tapping into” and “taking the step” and “resonance.”

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Queeley is the director of the Montreal Steppers, a team that uses their bodies to create rhythms and beats. The non-profit percussive dance group performs for themselves, for the community and visits schools for workshops and discussions that Queeley says quickly become “next-level.”

Percussive dance has origins in West Africa. It was a form of celebration and communication among slaves in North America and became popular among Black fraternities in the 1940s and ’50s, making its way to Canada by the ’90s.

Queeley, who is now a crisis case manager for students at McGill University, joined and went on to lead a stepping team while doing his undergrad in Upstate New York in 2007.

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“What I didn’t realize then,” Queeley says, “was that stepping was going to introduce me to part of my history, a rich art form rooted in blackness, rooted in Black expression, Black healing. These are ways we are communicating with each other. For me, it was very superficial at first. It was cool, it looked good. Yet it has meant so much more for us.”

Although he had fallen away from stepping by the time he moved to Montreal with his wife in 2014, the need to “keep the art form alive and keep the passion of using my body to make music” was never far from his thoughts. Montreal Steppers was formed in 2019 and has 18 members, 13 of whom are active steppers, while the others take charge of such things as stage management, music direction, media, photography and spoken word.

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When Queeley goes into a school for a workshop, the children will learn how to step. Yet the first thing he tells teachers is that he will allow the students to ask anything they want. A statement like that makes teachers nervous, he says, but he is blown away every time by the depth of conversation children set in motion.

He introduces himself and, with mid-elementary and older children, will begin, “About a hundred or so years ago (I’m just being generous), I would not be allowed to be in your classroom. The kids stop and say, ‘Mr. K., why?’ I say, because of my skin colour. At that time, although slavery had ended, there was segregation. Some ask, ‘What do you mean, what is that?’ It starts questions right away. As a Black man, I would not have been allowed into a white school. I would only have been allowed to teach at a Black school.”

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In this way, the Steppers are bold about centring Black history and acknowledging what some children might not have had to think about. Kids, with their finely tuned sense of justice, “call out what is wrong,” he says. The workshops are wrapped up by talking about people’s differences and the importance of appreciating them.

Children stomp and clap, they walk and clap, they are almost always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Queeley says.

“We use our bodies to tell the story of stepping and history. We use the art form as a starting point to have dialogues and conversations around blackness, Black art, Black history, Black importance, around creating a safe space and taking up space for ourselves.”

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It has been healing for the Montreal Steppers, Queeley says.

“As we dissect deeper into stepping, we connect the history. We recognize that this is not new. This has always been part of our ancestors’ expression. Going back to 14th century, back to West Africa before these folks were displaced against their will and brought to this North American context, these were elements of expression they were tapping into.”

The only time Queeley grasps for words is when attempting to define the connection his team experiences while stepping.

“Some folks say, ‘As you step on the ground, as you hit your body, you’re activating your land and you’re waking up your ancestors. It’s something we can’t really describe. … We’re tapping into something our ancestors laid down.”

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The team has done more than 300 workshops and has met close to 10,000 students, Queeley says. It is one way they want to sow into Montreal communities.

“We want people to see us and know who we are: ‘This is in response to everything you have said about Black people and believe about us.’ We are incredible. We are gifted. We are intelligent. We are impressive.”



The Montreal Steppers are part of the English Language Arts Network’s education program, wherein schools are granted an amount to invite artists to hold workshops.

The Steppers have made an intentional decision to not do any workshops during Black History Month, to avoid being tokenized or made a checklist item. They use that time to focus on their own healing.

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The group has set a fundraising goal of $4,000 for the month of September. The money will go directly to four community groups that have identified specific needs. The Steppers want their performances to be accessible and therefore not tied to fundraising, so donations are accepted online only. The groups benefiting are: The West Island Black Community Association’s robotics program; Côte-des-Neiges Black Association’s teen program; South Shore Youth Organization’s tutoring program; and Tinsdale Community Association’s high-school perseverance program.

“We want to continue to find ways to serve, teach, heal ourselves,” Queeley says. “Wherever this goes, if they feel a need to connect with us, we are happy to. We have seen the impact. We are very optimistic about what lies ahead.”

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  1. Dorothy Williams has dedicated more than 40 years of her life to documenting, archiving and telling the stories of the African presence in Canada as far back as the 16th century.

    Montreal’s Afromusée is the first museum of its kind in Quebec

  2. The Richmond 4-H square dance troupe holds up teacher Erin Scoble at a competition.

    Ponytails and suspenders: It’s hip to be a square dancer

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