“I lived in Leuven, Belgium, for three years, and like a lot of Belgium cities you had these gorgeous carillons that are ringing. I remember once being struck that no matter where you were in the city when you were hearing those you were participating in something that everybody else was to,” said Professor Thomas Hersey an English professor reflecting on his time in Germany where bells would go off at schedules.
He hopes to replicate this experience for UMass Lowell students and Lowell residence on Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. through the dual screening and broadcast of Derek Jarman’s 1993 film “Blue.”
“It’s funny. It’s tragic. It’s about life. It’s about death. It’s about everything,” said Hersey on the film.
The film is Jarman’s testimony of his experience with AIDS particularly with how he lost his sight, but Hersey emphasizes the project was truly about taking control of the narrative surrounding AIDS and how people were being judged and stereotyped based on their appearances resulting from the illness.
“If people were taking on certain types of appearances because of AIDS it was easier for people to say ‘Oh, it’s one of them!’ and to categorize them,” said Hersey. “[Jarman] in many ways said, ‘No, I’m not goanna let you do that.’”
The honors college has planned to stream the movie in O’Leary room 220 while WUML broadcasts the audio. Replicating how the film first aired in England both broadcasted on BBC television and simulcasted on BBC radio.
30 minutes prior to screening the film, members from the UMass Lowell Community, including faculty and students, will discuss topics such as HIV/AIDS, public health, contemplative writing, blindness, sound design, education, WUML and sustainability goals both within the college and the city of Lowell.
Hersey explained the sustainability is a large driving factor for this event. The idea had floated around the Honor’s College for a while as a way to better educate students about the United Nation (UN) 17 sustainability goals for 2030 which pertain to not just sustainability in the terms of the environment, but also in terms of economics, social issues, health and wellness.
“It’s a nice way of remembering that a lot of these things are interrelated,” said Hersey explaining why they choose to run the program around the same time as other sustainability programs surrounding earth day.
Hersey said that the Honors College places a great deal of stress on the seventeenth goal of the UN’s goals which pertains to partnerships and creating sustainable ideas through partnerships no matter how large or small. An event like this sponsored by WUML and hosted by the Honors College is one of the ways in which these partnerships are fostered.
Hersey encourages students to attend and bring a pillow or a blanket and just sit in the corner and listen. Though he notes many students find themselves watching the screen even though it is only the color blue.
“We’re all connected— we’re interconnected— in all kind of ways but we don’t have a lot of opportunities where we have that kind of experience together,” said Heresy, encouraging students to tune in. “It’s nice to know that everybody around campus– if they choose to– can tune in for 80 minutes and listen to this incredible soundtrack, this testimony, this witness.”