Qorbanee’s work explores the transient nature of life, and the contrast between the resilient and the fragile human body. She is interested in the capacity of the human body to create life and give birth, to inflict and feel pain, and to experience death- particularly during war and social conflict.
Aspects of Qorbanee’s personal history are echoed through her work. The reconsideration of early experiences, such as witnessing first-hand the deaths of those around her while growing up in Northern Iraq, is an important aspect of the artist’s practice.
“I want my pieces to reflect ‘the uncanny’ aspects of these experiences and I try to explore this through my choice of materials and my processes. I aim to encourage a sense of empathy in the viewer; a feeling of interaction and connection.”
Her recent work is a memorial to the Kurdish people who were killed during the chemical attack on the town of Halabja that took place in Northern Iraq on March 16 1988. The five thousand people who were killed are represented by five thousand small intimate objects which Qorbanee has created. These take the form of small fabric bags that have been filled with white salt and black charcoal and sewn together - similar to those that were made by the artist’s mother after the massacre took place, for her child’s protection in the event of another chemical attack. The concept was that the charcoal and salt-filled bags would act as a filter against poisonous gas if held over ones nose and mouth. Qorbanee was four years old at the time.
In this installation, the objects are a visual representation of life and death; the black and white materials suggest opposing states- of light and darkness, being and non-being.
“I am intrigued by the way in which this project has developed because it has pushed the boundaries of my practice; it has involved the creation of a large scale environmental work that relates to traumatic, intimate memories from a time that was very difficult for me. The writer and academic Enrique Bernard suggests that ‘The acknowledgment of genocide is very important psychologically’; the experience of making the body of work over the course of this year has been a highly emotional one, involving the cathartic release of physical and psychological pain as I sought to address the injustices and loss of life that the Kurdish people have experienced during recent wars.”
Qorbannee’s practice is inspired by the approaches of artists who use repetition in their work- including the painter Rebwar Saeed, and the sculptors Eva Hesse, Robert Morris and Allan McCollum.