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The Lightwell

The Lightwell

The Lightwell 
7′, 2020, Turkish (with English subtitles)
Camera and editing: Begüm Özden Fırat
Sound mix: Sair Sinan Kestelli

Sounds infiltrate, from inside to outside, and outside to inside… The Lightwell listens to the sounds that intensify inside a building during the first months of COVID-19 pandemic. This is an auditory experience that everyone, who has the luxury to stay at their homes during the pandemic, went through. As people withdrew to their homes, the sounds that come from apartments increased; “private” sounds mixed with “public” sounds that leaked from outside into inside. Begüm Özden Fırat finds a visual representation to this auditory experience by turning her camera into the lightwell of the building, where all the sounds accumulated. With its curtains, windows and pipes; the lightwell is much like a concrete gullet that swallows all the sounds of the pandemic period, unknown to the inhabitants of the building. The Lightwell, especially with its final scene, finds its meaning as a video-work with a focus on the border between the public and the private. Begüm Özden Fırat is participant of a research project that explores the place of sounds within Kurtuluş/Tatavla district’s daily life; and The Lightwell also traces the changes in her relationship with her own research practices. With its cumulative screens and inside-building encounters, The Lightwell explores the lines between positions of “building inhabitant”, “eavesdropper” and “researcher” as much as the borders between the private and the public.

Begüm Özden Fırat

Begüm Özden Fırat is a faculty member at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of Sociology in Istanbul. She works in the fields of visual culture, urban sociology, and social movements studies. She is the co-editor of Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009), Cultural Activism: Practices, Dilemmas, Possibilities (Rodopi, 2011) and Aesthetics and Resistance in the age of Global Uprisings (İletişim, 2015). Her book entitled Encounters with the Ottoman Miniature Contemporary Readings of an Imperial Art is published by I.B. Tauris in 2015. Fırat is a member of Emek is Ours, Istanbul is Ours initiative, which fought against the demolition of the historical Emek movie theatre, and she is also one of the directors of the documentary Welcome Lenin (2016).

This video is produced for Altyazı Fasikül: Free Cinema’s Looking Outside series. Following the first screening of the video, a live conversation (in Turkish) with Begüm Özden Fırat was realized.