On the Couch with Ahilan Ratnamohan

Ahilan Ratnamohan_Olympe Tits oncWho is Ahilan Ratnamohan?
I’m a performance maker, but I used to be an aspiring footballer (soccer player). I played semi-professionally in Europe for a little bit. I use my football background quite a bit when making work, but in general I just like working with non-conventional performers in my shows. I live in Belgium, but I’m from Sydney. My parents are Sri Lankan.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I’d pretty happily be a bike mechanic, or a footballer of course.

Who inspires you and why?
So on this particular night it’s this kid Marco Verratti, this diminutive Italian footballer, who in a football world of extreme stakes, plays as if he’s in a school yard, who probably gets yelled at big time by any old school, win-at-all-costs type, but just does his thing. But normally it could be anyone of the following: Christoph Schlingensief (see below), Julio Cortázar, Carlos Reygadas, Wolfgang Kill ‘em All, Bela Tarr, Ulrich Seidl, DJ Mutamassik.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I don’t holiday. I grew up in a migrant family who did it 2.5 times in my entire youth. Now when I attempt to I get frustrated after the second day because I can’t really work on anything. I mean the whole holiday thing is a contentious issue when you’re a freelance artist. We get these holidays imposed on us, because it’s pretty difficult to plan a perfect 52-week year in which you go from the one project to the next.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Bankstown, because it’s the real Australia for me and, yeah, the food is awesome. Unfortunately my mum took this advice once and she was pretty annoyed with me, it was for a cousin from America…

What are you currently reading?
Art Without Borders – Christoph Schlingensief

What are you currently listening to?
Jamie xx (he’s apparent from the xx, who I never actually go into), the first track Gosh seems like it must be a great club anthem (I haven’t been for a while) and I think it would be perfect for a first-time-make-out scene in a film, like right around 3.50.

Happiness is?
Enjoying your work!

What does the future hold for you?
Next year I’d really like to do a cliche, back-to-your-roots trip to Sri Lanka, in view of staying longer at some point in the near future. I think eventually I actually would like to end up making films, which is what I originally signed up for (university), but for now I’ve still got a lot of ideas for shows and collaborations.

Having performed through Australia, South Africa and Europe, Ahilan Ratnamohan creates physical performance inspired by sport, film, language and unorthodox forms, and since 2012 has been based in Antwerp, Belgium, where he has developed his working methodology.

After graduating from Film Studies at the University of Technology Sydney in 2005, Ratnamohan attempted a professional football (soccer) career in the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany – his experience as a footballer deeply informs the style of work he creates.

In Australia, Ratnamohan has worked with a diverse range of companies and artists including Urban Theatre Projects, Branch Nebula, Legs on the Wall, PACT, Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Theatre Kantanka, Martin del Amo and Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Ahilan’s soccer-inspired work, SDS1 plays at Arts House (19 – 22 August) before touring nationally to selected venues. For more information and performance dates, visit: www.performinglines.org.au for details.

Image: Ahilan Ratnamohan – photo by Olympe Tits