one year on: some thoughts on ‘home’

It will soon be my one year anniversary of leaving England and returning ‘home’ to Melbourne, Australia. I came with a return ticket – couldn’t face buying a one-way – what if it all didn’t work out? What if? What if? It’s funny how in this year, one of the many adventures I have had was returning to UK and heading up to Findhorn to dance in a choreographic lab with Deborah Hay (and 20 others). What if? What if? If you’re familiar with Deborah Hay there’s no more to say. If not, then I could leave you with one of her fantastically generative, dancing questions:

What if it is not what we do as dancers but how we engage the billions of passing moments in the space where we are dancing, either in solo or group work, we will learn to practice the how of performing?

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Amaara Raheem, Hestia, Asia House, London, 2014

Here I am channeling Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the home, the hearth. Here I am channeling Hestia in an old, colonial London mansion-house that has been turned into an arts and cultural venues called Asia House. Here I am in 2014 dancing through the process of deciding ‘yes! this is an end of an era’. Note how the fireplace in this ornate room, the site of Hestia, has been taken out. Is that a coincidence? Am I someone who has forgotten the rituals of putting out the home fires? Probably. Often when I left a ‘home’ it was without awareness or true intent. The first instance (Colombo – Melbourne), I was only 10 years old and it was in the midst of a civil war, so forgivable. In the second instance I was 27 years old and thought I was just going backpacking for two years (Melbourne – London). By the time 15 years passed I really didn’t know if I would find the way back ‘home’. Surely, the birds had long eaten my trail of crumbs? Maybe, but it didn’t matter, Hestia helped me remember. So, here I am calling upon the Greek deity of colonisation, stability, home-making, to guide me back, or is it forwards? Here I am having lived more than one lifetime, having loved in more than one place, having the kind of accent, face, demeanour, presence of a person from nowhere in particular and, everywhere in general. Not displacement exactly rather, ‘multiple belongings’.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that my PhD in the School of Architecture and Design is addressing ‘home’. In yet another iteration of writing that attempts to understand and name what I am doing I say:

The discipline of dance is a ‘home’ and I have mostly known ‘home’ through the act of leaving it and situating myself elsewhere in relation to it. Artists in exile making work about ‘home’ has a long history and it is with this in mind that I position myself as outsider or ‘border artist’ (Gomez-Pena) in the School of Architecture and Design. To work philosophically and kinaesthetically with the following concepts – ‘becoming’, ‘equivalence’ and ‘difference’ – sits at the heart of my doctoral projects. Here, the relationships between movement, language and ‘home’ are offered as a continuous sites of becoming; spaces in which to subtract or multiply ‘self’; where the personal is political, the political is personal and the borders between fact and fiction merge, meander; where the body is offered as surface for place-making. 

This blog is not the place to write everything, if such a thing were even possible. But carefully and methodologically – if for no one’s purposes but my own – I’d like to reflect upon this year: February 2015 – February 2016: a year of becoming, a year of BIG surprises, a year of adventuring, a year of departure and arrivals, a year of being under the Southern Sky.

Some different kind of writing that can be offered as Ariadne’s thread – a secret passageway through the maze of lived history – to tell the stories that only I can tell:

subterranean metals shimmer like firecrackers; performing subjectivity they snack on insects, bittersweet; this is a message-in-a-bottle bobbing on a sea of silence; I am in a wilder space now, I am re-wilding – not language as Robert MacFarlane does – but this surface called my body; it is a passage of time tucked inside itself – a russian doll of selfs, so to speak; flyweight to heavyweight she is feeling the weight and the wait of the PhD; it takes the time it takes (smile); the gravity of new beginnings means uphill climbs are difficult but necessary; remember how crossing Mt Graham was surprisingly tender? she has returned back to the drafting table to build it all over again, this time straight and true. 

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Amaara Raheem, Hestia, Asia House, London, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

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