Coffee Reading Workshops

Since the beginning of our collective we have been reading our coffee cups for each other. What we had seen since our childhood about a “womanly”, “backward” or “superstitious” way of spending some more time together at the table was actually a method of care. We got to realise this once it became a habit for us to do cross-readings of coffee cups – everyone at the table getting their coffee cup read by everyone else on the table, one cup after the other. We would develop on the readings of one another, or to build a conversation from these readings. We do this when we are side by side but also when we are miles away from each other. The Collective has reached the point where we can say that we are a fortune-telling collective – and we have even created a podcast on the subject in December 2018, which you can find attached. 

Fortune-telling is a pretext to talk about each other that is different than any other pretext. It is magic that can be used as a method of care. You are given something – most often a coffee cup – that can be interpreted with no strings attached to the rational world where things have to be logical and they have to serve some ends. You have some minutes to talk to someone about themselves, or to have someone talk to you about you. The teller does not need to specify why they are saying what they are saying or what makes them think in this way. They can show some birds or fish in the coffee cup that means this or that, but the final decision is theirs. What comes out in the reading of the coffee cup is how I see my friend. I tell them what I fear or hope might happen to them, what I fear or hope that they might do about this or that. Setting aside the rules of the ordinary world for a little bit of time we have the chance to reflect on, and to reflect towards each other. It is one of the methods of care that rationality and normativity have rendered obsolete. We want to bring it back, and we want to make the esoteric relevant again. (For more of these discussions you can refer to our podcast.)

The workshop that we offer for the festival is a 2-hour workshop for which we will need some finely-ground coffee and some coffee cups (which we can bring ourselves) and a stove on which we can make coffee or a machine (which we can also bring if the space has none). Some fortune-telling members of the collective will be giving the workshop – Sanem, Burcu,Çiğdem and Esra will most probably be there as well as some other members of the collective. We will begin by explaining the various techniques and ways of fortune-telling from a coffee cup, which will take no more than 30 minutes. For this part we will rely on our own experience and on research about the historical and the present reception of fortune-telling in the Eastern Mediterranean. While we make these explanations we will be making coffee for the participants of the workshop and serving it to them. They will be drinking their coffees and we will ask them to turn their coffee cups upside down. (Of course nobody is forced to do this, but it is encouraged.) Once the coffee cups are upside down and cold, we will ask one of the participants to give us their coffee cup for an exemplary collective reading. (If nobody is willing to do this, we will read the coffee cup of someone from the collective.) Then the participants will divide into groups of 4-5 people to read each other’s coffee cups. The collective members will be present and rotating between the groups throughout the process to help them out. When we are stuck, we can also get help from members of the collective who are not present in the festival through Whatsapp or Skype, which is common practice for us. 

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Atina Kolektif© 2019

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