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  • Mercenary

    (Flanders-Belgium / Australia)

    Ahilan Ratnamohan

    Battersea Arts Centre

    In 2022, Qatar will stage one of the biggest spectacles the world has ever seen: the FIFA World Cup. It’s a phenomenon shrouded with hype even in its construction and as the huge stadiums emerge from the sandy terrain, so do the stories of mass exploitation of a diverse migrant workforce.

    Travelling across Qatar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, performance-maker and footballer Ahilan Ratnamohan expected to come face to face with the reality of what it takes to build our global World Cup dreams. Through interviews with the workers themselves, he glimpsed behind the Western media headlines and into the lives of those on the ground, discovering that much like the beautiful game itself, the truth is often a fallacy.

    Mercenary is a collaboration between Ahilan Ratnamohan, a Sri Lankan-Australian footballer-artist now based in Antwerp, and Mutamassik, an Egyptian-Italian-American musician. The performance features Ratnamohan’s distinctive football-dance movement seen in his LIFT 2014 production, Michael Essien I want to play as you … , fused with Mutamassik’s trademark first-generation, punk jaw, electronic pan-African derivatives.

    Ratnamohan and his performers – a troupe of Asian footballers – arrive at a more fundamental starting point: the Asian body; as worker, as migrant, as thinker, but not athlete. Through an unrelenting football choreography the performers attempt to shred the layers of their existence as Asians in the West. Can they ever be footballers? Can they ever be migrant workers?


    ‘THE PHYSICAL STORYTELLING IS UNMISTAKABLE’

    The Independent

    'A POWERFUL AND EXPLOSIVE FOOTBALL-DANCE-THEATRE PERFORMANCE EXPLORING THE LINE BETWEEN HOPE AND DESPERATION'

    The Reviews Hub on previous work

    Commissioned by LIFT and presented by LIFT and Battersea Arts Centre. Supported by the Government of Flanders, Fare Network, Australian Government through the Australia Council and the City of Antwerp. A BespectACTive project, supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Image: Koen Broos
    Thank you to LIFT’s Commissioning Circle

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