Since March this year, Ahilan Ratnamohan has been busy reading on a diverse range of subjects, journaling in his recently learned Tamil, writing scripts for his performances and also skyping with his mother as part of their ongoing project, 'The Tamilization of Ahilan Ratnamohan'. The series is an extension of his language-based practice, as the artist who is of Sri Lankan origin tries to learn Tamil for the first time in his life from his mother who is a native speaker, coming to terms with his diasporic identity and the second-generation amnesia induced by the process of migration. He shared with us a brief excerpt from his extensive recordings of their video calls, which captures him introducing to his mother what the performance they are making together will be about for the first time.
He is simultaneously working on another new project Pidgin X/Pidgin Amsterdam, which is an attempt to create a new dialect which would reflect the cultural diversity of European cities and re-democratize their local languages by drawing from words that their migrant communities miss the most from their own mother tongues left behind.
Ahilan's reading list:
• Not like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience - Rey Chow
• On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous - Ocean Vuong
• The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation - Jacques Ranciere
• The Coconut Children - Vivian Pham
• Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland - Patrick Radden Keefe
• The Emperor's Babe - Bernadine Evaristo
• The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran
• Clean: The New Science of Skin - James Hamblin
• Why We Swim - Bonnie Tsui
• Gorilla - Shobasakthi
• Translation (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art) - Sophie J. Williamson (Editor)
• Bhagavad Gita - Vyasa
His performance from 'The Tamilization of Ahilan Ratnamohan' will be presented at the forthcoming edition of Colomboscope, 'Language is Migrant.'