CEE | Center for Experimental Ethnography
Death/Fast is a 52-minute experimental video documentary about the 2,286-day mass hunger strike (2000-2007) undertaken by political prisoners contesting the regime of isolation in Turkey's newly instituted F-type, high-security prisons. Anchored in in-person interviews with survivors, the documentary recovers the experience of hunger strikers which serves as the disavowed condition of possibility for the retroactive self-authorization on the part of political organizations. Juxtaposing rehearsed narratives about their transformations in relation to time, to others, to truth—and to death—with imagery taken from everyday life in public locations across contemporary Istanbul, the documentary probes the (non)relation between the distinct temporality of the hunger strike and the heterogeneous temporalities of urban life immersed in daily activity/inactivity, between the violence of the prison and the violence hidden in everyday life.
Produced by Brian Karl and Özge Serin and first screened in 2017, Death/Fast uses ensembles of visual and audio techniques, including image flashes of extremely short duration, emulating the scar effects of long-term starvation on memory; extreme cropping within the larger frames of moving images, representing isolation outside prison; and the use of faint image-traces of speaking subjects, creating ghostly figures to suggest the ephemerality and tentativeness of any single subject position. Together, the combined effect of excerpts from interviews and formal choices in representation within the audio and video of the documentary challenge and loosen the conventional links between the experience of dying and those grammars that purport to represent and politicize it.
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