Sounds infiltrate, from inside to outside, and outside to inside… ‘The Lightwell’ listens to the sounds that intensified inside buildings during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an auditory experience that everyone, who had 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 sounds accumulate. 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: We hear the sounds of public celebrations related to cyclical national and political events, such as April 23rd, National Sovereignty and Children’s Day; May 19th, the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, when the whole neighbourhood sang the national anthem; as well as the celebration of the MayDay, and May 31, the anniversary of the Gezi Uprising, when people chanted revolutionary songs and slogans on their balconies and windows. These sounds also sneak into the lightwell, and from there into the so-called nucleus of the private realm, home. ‘The Lightwell’, especially with its final scene, emphasizes its focus on the border between the public and the private. Begüm Özden Fırat researches the place of sounds within Kurtuluş/Tatavla district’s daily life, yet ‘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.
The Lightwell * 7′, 2020,
Turkish Camera and editing: Begüm Özden Fırat
Sound mix: Sair Sinan Kestelli
* This video is produced for Altyazı Fasikül: Free Cinema’s Looking Outside video series
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 titled Encounters with the Ottoman – Miniature Contemporary Readings of an Imperial Art was 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).