Visual artist Shimon Attie opens LUAG exhibition on Bethlehem’s past and present

Shimon AttieTheodore U. Horger ’61 Endowed Artist-in-Residence for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Department of Art, Architecture and Design, presents a new site-specific multimedia work focusing on Bethlehem’s past and present as a microcosm of America at the Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG).

Starstruck: An American Talewhich features a central sculpture inspired by the 90-foot-tall Star of Bethlehem on the city’s south mountain surrounded by two channels of synchronized video, will be on display at LUAG from September 6 through December 3. The project explores the “distinctness” of Bethlehem’s American brew of religious utopian fervor, the rise and fall of industrial capitalism, and… its reinvention to fulfill casino-goers’ dreams of making it big.

Attie, a visual artist, will hold a free public lecture on September 13 at 5:30 p.m. in Baker Hall at the Zoellner Arts Center, followed by an opening reception in the LUAG Main Gallery. A catalog of the exhibition, produced and co-published by LUAG and Black Dog Press, London, UK, will be available in summer 2023 and distributed worldwide by Ingram.

The project echoes the use of multimedia in an installation Attie made for the St. Louis Art Museum in 2017, Lost in Space (after Huck). Drawing inspiration from the Mississippi River, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and nearby Ferguson, Miss., Attie placed a floating sculpture of a raft in the center of the room and included elements such as cast sculptures of a corncob pipe, knife and shoulder bag. A contemporary red siren light, which Attie said could be interpreted as that of a police car or ambulance, or a utility light, was positioned on the raft while a video projection of stars gave the impression that the raft was floating in space.

Attie, who began her residency in Lehigh last year, often uses film and video to bring the history of marginalized and forgotten communities into urban spaces. His past work includes on-site photographic projections in Berlin’s former Jewish Quarter, underwater light boxes in Copenhagen’s Borsgraven Canal, laser projections illuminating the immigrant experience in apartment buildings on the Lower East Side. of New York City and, more recently, a project about asylum seekers called Night Watch, which Attie originally produced in New York’s East and Hudson Rivers, and also presented in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Students from Lehigh’s Department of Art, Architecture and Design supported Attie’s work on his residency project. He also teaches a seminary class at the university.

To learn more about Attie, visit here.

Briana R. Cross