23 Days at Sea

A Travelling Artist Residency


Access Gallery with Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art
curated by Kimberly Phillips 

“The boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea... (it is a) great instrument of economic development, but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination…”  
- Michel Foucault
In December 2014, Access Gallery—in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation and Contraste agence d’art—issued a call for submissions for a highly unconventional artist residency, offering selected emergent and experimental artists passage aboard cargo ships sailing from Vancouver to Shanghai. Crossing the Pacific Ocean takes approximately twenty-three days, during which time artists will be considered “in residence” aboard the vessel.  

I am very fortunate to be one of four artists selected for this adventure. Above is a photo of the ship, Hanjin Geneva where I will be considered in ‘residence’ from April 19 – May 12 2016. After sailing across the North Pacific Ocean I arrive in Shanghai for four days before returning to Vancouver (via plane) to make an artwork for the opening of the 23 Days at Sea exhibition featuring the work of all four residency artists. I will also perform at Access Gallery during my stay. 

Read the press release and other articles related the project here. 

For more details on the project follow my blog. 




Camera by Dianne Reid (b&w)  
Concept, performance and editing by Amaara Raheem


submerge is a dance-on-screen made in response to receiving 23 Days at Sea residency curated by Access Gallery. It was exhibited as part of a group show at Footscray Community Arts Centre, 2015. submerge activates body, imagination and sea as an in-between space, exploring what’s just above and just below the surface of water, an incremental depth that is in continual flux and generation. submerge plays with notions of this body’s ability to keep afloat whilst simultaneously submitting to uncontrollable forces such as wind, tide and waves. Positioned between earth and sky, place and placelessness, above and below, submerge places stillness in relation to continuous motion, rise and fall.  

The cargo of this body – woman, immigrant, nomad, other  - is both here and there, contained and container.  


i + I = WE


Dance and Somatics Conference, 2015. 
Photos by Christian Kipp


The guiding principle of this performance-lecture – presented in 2015 at Dance and Somatics Conference, Coventry University, UK & New Materialism Conference, VCA -  asks can an autobiographical performance descend from the power of one to ground zero i.e. a space in which ‘negative knowledge’ can be co-created in the moment of (un)doing? Or another way to put it, can witnessing a dancer moving and talking, become a social event? Autobiographical performance has long been considered the performance of possibility and transformation as well as equally criticised as egotistical, solipsistic, self-indulgent.  

Characterised by exposing an ambiguity towards self this performance lecture re-claims the politics of representation through the practice of creative research and assembly; claiming self by giving up what I think is mine and embracing self from a place of form and theme; self then as strategy; chorus; authentic fiction; co-emergence. 



Live performance atAsia House, 2014.


In my childhood home, my mother kept plastic flowers. As a child I thought these flowers were real and would touch them only to be confused by their too hard stalks. The beauty of plastic, she would say, is that it never grows old, is cheaper and doesn’t cause allergies. I grew up to resent plastic flowers and yet strangely lured by them too because they remind me of another time and place i.e. my childhood. Perhaps something in this relationship imitates my relationship to ‘home’ or to be more precise, ‘the immigrant-in-a-new-land home’ – a coincident longing for and rejection of ‘roots’. 

HESTIA is named in honour of one of Greek’s most honoured deities - Goddess of the Hearth described as imposing, discreet, immobile, and calm presiding over the centre of the Earth, the centre of home, desiring neither change nor adventure. Hestia – Goddess of Settlement - also supervised the state and the establishment of new colonies.   

Throughout this project I’ve been reflecting on how the Artist-as-Nomad lives in relationship to home and state. I’ve been thinking to what and who and where we belong. And whether modern nomadism is a poetic choice, a survival strategy or turning away from? HESTIA plays with embodying multi-layered experiences of in-between-ness. My own relationship to place is on the one hand, rickety and disposable and on the other, compulsive and demanding, and it is through this lens that I seek to articulate how we live in relationship to place and ‘belonging’. 

Part of Artist as Nomad installation and performance at Asia House, 2014.  

Choreography & performance: Amaara Raheem
Sound score: Tobias Stürmer
Dramaturgy & Photography: Michelle Outram  
Supported by: Creativeworks London, Roehampton Dance, Asia House. 
Photos by Michelle Outram




“It has become symbolically charged, freighted with layers of history, legend, global politics, and race relations.” Object 89 from the BBC series, A History of the World in a 100 Objects. 

Provoked by object 89, the Australian bark shield, brought to England by Captain Cook and now on permanent display in the Rooms of Enlightenment at the British Museum, ‘Shield’ explores myth, memory and mobility. From the war-torn city of Colombo, through the blinding white beaches of Botany Bay, to the chartered streets of London town, Shield performs the topographical journey ‘diversity’ has taken in time and space and the notion of searching for one’s ‘roots’. A humorous, physical, political and poetic response to the Age of Reason.  

In collaboration with Tobias Sturmer. 

Performed by Amaara Raheem, Seke Chimutengwende, Hamish MacPherson & Tobias Sturner (musician) at Ovalhouse.  


Hand to Mouth


With Literary Cutlery by Ania Bas

Hand to Mouth – a 1:1 performance intervention was first presented at Memory Banquet: food and acts of remembering is part of Being Human: a festival of the Humanities, November 2014. 

Through a participatory investigation into actions, rhythms, and narratives of feeding and being fed, Hand to Mouth is about coming close(r). In your body lives the memory of being fed. Before you learnt to use hands, fork, spoon, chopstick or knife, someone fed you. In this intimate 1:1 performance, dance artist, Amaara Raheem returns to this very basic of human rituals. Set in a warm, domestic setting an audience member creates their own ‘plate’ choosing foods from a buffet style menu, inspired by Sri Lankan foods.  Following a hand-washing ritual, Amaara will feed you – not only the food itself, but words too. Stories of the spice trade intermingle sustenance with narratives in the space between your mouth and ear, to create old and new remembrance - food as shelter, food as culture, food as threshold. 


House that Jack Built


House That Jack Built was a first experiment in making screendance. It explored time, cumulative narrative, memory and this idea of ‘searching for one’s roots’. A journey into notions of diversity by creating a relationship to space, building a ‘home’ for a nomadic artist; singing one’s self into being. 

Using the Old English rhyme The House That Jack Built, this short film explores and exposes the self as a thing folding into and out of its environment. 

Music and camera: Tobias Sturmer
Concept, design and performance: Amaara Raheem


Wind Meeting, The Performance Arcade, Wellington, 2018.jpg