BETHLEHEM, PA.- Lehigh University Art Galleries
is presenting a new, site-specific multimedia work by artist Shimon Attie; Starstruck: An American Tale.
Invited to create a new body of work as Lehigh Universitys Horger Artist-in-Residence (2021-22) in the Department of Art, Architecture and Design, Attie has created an artwork which interrogates Bethlehems past and present as a microcosm of America.
Following the citys founding as The Bethlehem of North America by Moravian Christian reformist and utopian settlers in 1741, it later enjoyed an industrial heyday in the late 19th to 20th centuries as the capital of Americas steel industry and then saw a subsequent collapse during the 1980s. Bethlehem, in its layered history, echoes the hopes, histories and values of many North American cities, particularly those in the Rust Belt. Atties project explores this distinctly American brew of religious utopian fervor, industrial capitalisms rise and fall, and, finally, its reinvention in catering to the dreams of making it big on the part of casino goers.
The completed artwork is a hybrid video and sculptural installation which juxtaposes and examines Bethlehems past and present. The piece comprises a central sculpture centered between two channels of synchronized video. The sculpture is inspired by the existing 90-foot-tall brightly lit Bethlehem Star on Bethlehems South Mountain, built by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce in 1937 as a commercially- minded endeavor to brand Bethlehem as The Christmas City. The Star on the hill is brightly lit in Christmas white and on a clear evening is visible for 60 miles.
Shimon Attie is an internationally renowned visual artist whose practice includes creating site-specific installations in public places and immersive multiple-channel video and mixed-media installations. For more than three decades, Attie has made art that allows us to reflect on the relationship between place, memory and identity. In many of his projects, he engages local communities in finding new ways of representing their history, memory, and potential futures, and explores how contemporary media may be used to re-imagine new relationships between space, time, place and identity.
Among his many accomplishments, Attie has developed works of public art in Berlin, Tel Aviv, Rome, New York, Boston and San Francisco, among many others. His work also has been featured in numerous exhibitions including at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago and The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize and Guggenheim Fellowship, and holds the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award in Art.
Attie will be the Horger Artist-in-Residence with Lehigh Universitys Department of Art, Architecture and Design through Fall 2022, engaging students in the development of his new work. In addition, Attie is teaching a seminar course encompassing public art, community engaged practices, site specific installation, performance and a range of topics related to social practice.