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1981, Helsinki. Lives in Helsinki.

Upon arriving in İstanbul, Takala was struck by the local coffeehouses kahves in Turkish, which she compares to living rooms for men. Most kahves have a group of men who are regulars and spend hours everyday playing games such as okey or 51. Takala was fascinated by how difficult it felt for her, as a young foreign woman, to enter these places.
For The Switch Takala wanted to find two men of the same name who were regulars in coffeehouses on opposite sides of the city who would switch places for an evening. She found two Mehmets, one from Yedikule and the other from Üsküdar, but on the night of the event neither could make it, so Ömer and Yavuz replaced them. On their journeys across İstanbul, they discuss the etiquette, culture and social relations of kahves. Yavuz’s conversation provides insight into the psychology of the players, for whom this stress-relieving hobby can become an addiction. For a regular group of friends the kahve is a comfortable, home-like space and they dislike change so it’s difficult for a stranger to play in a new kahve. On the way back they talk about the experience and the dynamics of playing away from home.
Women in Kahves is video documentation, filmed with a hidden camera, of the visits Takala and three Turkish women, all with short hair and wearing trousers, made to various coffeehouses to play okey. A woman arriving at these places alone is considered a harmless accident, but Takala wanted to go there to play with friends, like everybody else. The regulars then decide whether or not to accept this. The men’s reactions were subtle when the women were present but after they left there a discussion would often begin.

Alexandra MacGilp


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