For a tragedy as jarring and unprovoked as last year’s marathon bombing, finding the proper way to acknowledge the event and honor those who lost their lives can be difficult; a somber vigil, a proud ceremony, or a bittersweet celebration of life may feel appropriate to different people, and none of them are wrong. As we approach the first anniversary of the attacks on April 15th, students of Emerson’s School of Visual & Media Arts are preparing to mark the occasion with a collection of shorts that reflect the diversity of experiences to the trauma we all shared in its wake.
“When the immediate shock waves of bombing had started to diminish, I became curious about the response the creative community at Emerson would have,” said Paul Turano, assistant professor of Visual & Media Arts and curator of the event. “As an artist myself, I feel creative responses to tragedy can be one way of grappling with the incomprehensibility of these kinds of circumstances. It was heartening and therapeutic to discuss this tragedy with my students, and I felt that they were finding it to be a very challenging experience, especially as it became public that the alleged perpetrators were individuals their own age, one a current college student.”
The effects of last year’s events can be felt in practically every aspect of our city’s character, and the topics covered in the eight shorts presented at “Bright Lights: Marathon Bombing Tragedy Anniversary” reflect that lasting legacy. Topics including sports, the manhunt, chaos, fear, and others will receive treatments in a diversity of filmmaking styles. Emerson student Massachusetts Air National Guard member Nikoletta Kanakis’s documentary short “Anxiety” opens the program, followed by video art “Memory of a Fading.” “April 19” examines the ways in which people reenter everyday life following a traumatic experience, while the experimental “Battle Space” juxtaposes the comfort of American life against the realities of military combat. The tension of the “shelter-in-place” order is examined in the documentary “Watertown,” which gets a more artistic, experimental treatment in “Friday.” The final two shorts will be an examination of therapy dog “Harvey Dangerfield,” and Amy DePaola’s “The Day I Bought a Red Sox Hat or #KeepRunning.”
Turano suggests that “the best approach to deal with trauma and tragedy is through expression, and this can take many forms … This program of work is just one snapshot of that expression. It is a time capsule of hardship and perseverance during a very challenging time, but the composite experience is a kind of celebration of our collective voice. It is really a testimony to facing and overcoming a trauma with broad creativity and personal vision, and I have been very inspired and moved by the artists in this program.”
BRIGHT LIGHTS: MARATHON BOMBING TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY SCREENING. PARAMOUNT SCREENING ROOM, 559 WASHINGTON ST., BOSTON, TUE 4.15, 7-9PM. FREE TO THE PUBLIC, FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVE SEATING. EMERSON.EDU/BRIGHTLIGHTS