The 281-year-old story of Bethlehem has been condensed into a 19-minute art film and sculptural installation at Lehigh University.
Called “Starstruck: An American Tale,” by artist Shimon Attie, the two-channel projection inside the university’s Art Gallery uses six local performers portraying different historical layers of their hometown: from its founding by Moravian Christians in the 18th century, to the dominance and deflation of the steel industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, to the rise of a gambling economy.
The New York-based artist was invited to Bethlehem in 2020 by the university through its artist residency program. He had never been to Bethlehem, Pa., but saw the city as a microcosm of the nation.
“That history of the pioneering idealism of the early days, later industrialization, complete collapse, disillusionment, and the urgency to then reinvent yourself,” said Attie. “Just the American dream of making it big by winning the slot machines. I think this is the American tale.”
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