How Are You Today – Amaara Raheem

Amaara Raheem

How Are You Today – Episode 10

Instagram handle @amaararaheem


Kiera Brew Kurec 0:04
Hello, and welcome to Prac Prac I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

Nick Breedon 0:07
And I’m Nick Breedon. You’re listening to How Are You Today? a spin off series where we’re calling artists and chicken with how Coronavirus is affecting them mentally and physically and ask them to share their worries and their hopes for the future.


Amaara Raheem 0:24
Hey, hi there.

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:27
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. We really appreciate it. We’re really excited to have you on the show.

Amaara Raheem 0:33
Yeah, I’m thank you for inviting me. I was delighted to receive your email.

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:39
So how are you today?

Amaara Raheem 0:42
Yeah, I’m, I’m pretty well, yeah, I didn’t sleep so well, last night. Which is a bit unusual for me. But I was. I was awake. And and I’ve been doing this. So I’m doing a performance training intensive in California. So it starts in Melbourne at 6am every morning for the last week. Because it’s like 4pm in California or 2pm, or whatever it is there. So I so you know, the energy in the afternoon is so different to energy, like I wake up five to get ready to do like, high intensive performance training in my living room. And it gets really fantastic. But it’s also so surreal. And yeah, so I woke up. And I did it. I did it this morning. It was great.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:34
How long has it been going for?

Amaara Raheem 1:35
It’s just one week. So we started because it started on Monday in California. But it started Tuesday morning for us and Saturday tomorrow morning. 6am is the last one. And it’s with a 74 year old performance maker called Sara Shelton Mann, who is a really amazing teacher with a lot of background in sort of shamanistic traditions as well. Tibetan Buddhism, but you know, it’s really performance, it’s really about, It’s about using all of the channels that we have to really meet, for our energy to meet the energy of the audience really, like it’s amazing training.

I have a bit of a big question for you, but how has the pandemic affected you?

Well, you know, it’s just changed. It’s just changed everything really, like it’s changed. It’s changed the history of our world. And we are, we are all in it living. I mean, every year and every day is a moment in history, but there are some, some events and some decades and you know, the 60s were its own thing and the 40s were its own thing. And the 17th century was its own thing and 2020 is its own thing.

Nick Breedon 3:08
Sure is!

Amaara Raheem 3:10
Yeah, Ah, look, it’s it’s, it’s also not without its gifts, I think I have really appreciated many things about lockdown. And a lot of people I know Also, I’ve been speaking to you have also really benefited from just stopping and having a lot of permission to just pause and reflect and to do a lot of things that that we’ve been putting off for a long time. But that said, it’s it’s also created, we’re enormously privileged. It’s affected a lot of people in really unimaginable ways and I’m really aware of that. And yeah, and I and I, I’m partly I think the reason why I’m, I wasn’t sleeping last night. I mean, it’s not all the reason but you know, I think there’s a lot of anxiety and fear and uncertainty, as we’re opening up also about the future and being an arts practitioner and what what’s happening in Australia with the arts, it’s just like it’s been decimated, it’s been the foundations of it are being, I don’t know, dismantled.

Kiera Brew Kurec 4:38
We just heard about the workshop that you’re working on. And for those who are listening, they may be aware of the residency you are undertaking at Blindside. And I’m just wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about any projects that you have been working on in lockdown and about the residency that you were undertaking.

Amaara Raheem 4:59
Yeah. Well, the residency has finished at Blindside finished on the sixth of June. It was 3 weeks and it was, it came out of the blue. I mean, Blindside is temporarily closed and there’s no exhibitions. So there’s this empty space. And they were really generous when they could to offer it to different artists that were selected, not through an open call, but I don’t know how they were selected. I just got an email asking me to, if I would like a space. And I suppose, Well, it seems to me that I was selected because I’m developing a relationship with Blindside. I don’t have an established relationship with them. But I’ve been in conversation with them. And I know Martina and Martina wrote to me and said, is this useful to you? And it just came Kiera, at the right moment in time where you know, do you know how we were just emerging of three weeks ago out of lockdown, and then just but there was also this question, like cafes are still closed, like, where do we go and then Blindside offered me this space, this empty gallery and I really love empty galleries. They’re just portals into space and time.

Nick Breedon 6:17
So much potential.

Amaara Raheem 6:18
Yeah, exactly. It’s sort of the blank page, but it’s already full of histories. So and the Nicholas building too. I mean, I don’t know if you know it, but it’s an art deco building that I haven’t been to since 1996, I don’t think and it was really like, I went back in time to 1996 because the city was relatively empty. It was like being in Melbourne in 1996 on a Sunday, like shops the shops were closed, there were hardly anyone around. Mostly like a lot of homeless people still on the streets. And then I just spent most of my time catching that extraordinary elevator up and down, but up and down the journeys of my life, my memories. You know, the Melbourne I used to know, and when it really was the most liveable city in the world,

Nick Breedon 7:12
How is your routine changed since you started locked down?

Amaara Raheem 7:16
I mean, my routines constantly mutating. And and I feel from time to time, I feel extremely untethered, and unstructured, like so this week, the routine is wake up at five and do high intensity performance training in my studio flat. As at the beginning of the day, three weeks ago or two weeks ago, it was going to the city regularly to Blindside and structuring my day spending hours in there until I was too cold to be able to do any work and then I’d come home. And tomorrow I’m in the mountains and going to the Gariwerd to the Grampians, which is three hours west of Melbourne my partner has a home there and I’m going to spend a month writing my PhD. So So I suppose, my routine is shifting and growing as I inhabit different frameworks and structures, and in accordance with how the city opens up and closes down, and how I open up and close down.

Kiera Brew Kurec 8:30
So yeah, Amaara, this question is quite a heavy one. But I’m wondering if you wanted to share with us anything that you’re currently worried about?

Amaara Raheem 8:39
Ah Kiera there’s a number of things that I could, I could say that I’m worried about. But the at the forefront of my mind is the news, listening to the eight o’clock news this morning and hearing the education minister, talk about the changes that they’re going to make to universities, and how they are increasing the prices of arts education 113% and decreasing other what they considered skilled jobs like nursing and teaching and agriculture and maths, anywhere between 20 and 40%. So students who want to study humanities or arts or law will will be paying something like $50,000 for their education. And that worries me so intensely on every single level in terms of what this government, what Australia seems to prioritize reimagining our future coming out of lockdown and the pandemic. Who will be able to afford to do arts courses which is already a privilege, sector and voices and eyes and bodies will become even more rarefied what, what is considered skills? I mean, not to undervalue nursing or teaching or I.T because they’re amazing professions. And I understand that we are looking towards health and technology. But what about critical thinking and moral philosophy and spatial intelligence and being able to use our imagination on a very rigorous and technical level? What about social and cultural inheritance and storytelling and the importance of continuing our ways of being together and understanding the world and through story and dance and song, and it just does not have to be a binary position where it’s either IT or art, but you know, Dan Tehan was saying, Well, if people choose to study arts, you know, he’s really encouraging them to also take a unit in IT. But is he encouraging the people that choose to study IT to take a unit in painting? How will they afford to if it’s $45,000? That, obviously not to do painting? But you know, I mean, like, even if it’s 113%, more, if it’s not an equal playing field? Of course, if you’re going to take nursing, because it’s the cheaper option. How are you ever going to afford to do anthropology? I’m deeply worried about this. On a personal level for like, what am I going to do when I come out of a PhD as universities are, like, changing so fast, but also on a collective and structural, and legal and social level? for our country?

Nick Breedon 11:56
On the flip side of that, I was just wondering if you might share what you’re hopeful for going forward into the future?

Amaara Raheem 12:02
You know, I’m amazed at what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter, movement. I mean, there’s some serious shit going down in the U.S.A. But it’s reverberating in these kind of extraordinary ways. I think, in the kinds of conversations that I’m, I’m part of, and what I’m hearing, but not only on social media in my own echo chamber, but also on the news and the the changing of police. I mean, for the first time, I think a policeman has actually been charged with murder, for killing black man on Friday night. But before then, I think it’s, there haven’t been, I feel like I’m so I’ve, as a woman of colour, I feel very heard right now. And I feel very seen, and not just seen in this hyper visible way that I’ve been seen before, where you’re seen as other or exotic or in this kind of difference, but seen as a as a, as part of a wider kind of ecology. I feel, I feel like it’s really, it’s very hard to say all these things that I’m just speaking totally for myself and for my particular vision, but I feel like what’s happening with the Black Lives and the marches and the ally ship is really, my body is healing through that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 13:36
Thank you for sharing that. Thank you. Before we end, do you have a website and any social media that any of the audience listening today can go and find you on?

Amaara Raheem 13:49
Yes I have a website. It’s and Instagram, it’s just my name @amaararaheem I’m really not doing Facebook very much. But I’m wondering what I am curating my Instagram account quite carefully since we went to the pandemic.

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:07
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today and share where you’re at.

Amaara Raheem 14:12
Thank you for this great podcast. It’s going to be such an amazing archival document.

Nick Breedon 14:16
yeah we think so too

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:17
thank you so much again, thank

Nick Breedon 14:20
See you later.

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we have recorded and pay respect to elders past, present and emerging and the elders of the land on which this podcast reaches you on today. We extend that respect to all First Nations people listening and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:38
How are you today has been generously supported by the city of Melbourne’s quick response grants. Follow us at @propracpodcast on Instagram or email us at If you haven’t already, please subscribe on whatever you listen to podcast on.

Nick Breedon 14:54
Please stay in touch. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well.

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Pro Prac acknowledges City of Melbourne’s generous contribution to How Are You Today? through their Quick Response grants program