Khabat Abas is an experimental cellist and improviser from Kurdistan Iraq. She grew up in an environment that was shattered by conflict and war. It was in this environment that she learnt to play the cello. She performed with various ensembles, including the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, ensemble for contemporary music in Malmö and Non-Ensemble for experimental music.
Khabat’s main focus arises between her lived experience as a cellist and the material agency of her instruments. She explores new ways of playing and new physical relationships with the cello, creating in turn new sounds and new performing techniques. Her cellos have emerged from and reflect the realities of life in a war zone, and they deconstruct the “perfect” cello of Western classical tradition into an unstable or Imperfect, instrument.
In her practice Khabat seeks to critique notions of perfection and mastery within Western classical cello playing. She raises questions about imperfections, errors, or what is out of bounds, raising the possibilities of sounds that cannot be controlled. In contrast, to traditional musical values, the materiality of the instrument emerges. By using different materials to alter the instrument and her way of playing, she creates new perspectives on the idea of the cello, and brings into question the role of the performer in creating this idea.