Halfway through my interview with Tunisian techno artist Deena Abdelwahed she stops me briefly to correct me on my my pronunciation. “You know it’s Khonnar with a ‘hkk’ sound, not Rhonnar,” she says, in reference to the title of her acclaimed debut LP. Mortified, I scan frantically through my papers for the article I’d sourced my faulty phonetics from, but Deena begins to laugh. “I’m so sorry — that’s InFiné actually. I said Khonnar and they said Rhonnar. I thought it’d just be easier to explain afterwards.”
There’s no malice in this correction, but it’s indicative of Deena’s manner as a whole. She’s precise and clear-eyed, but also compassionate and quick-witted. Our frank discussion of the serious plight faced by civilians in the Arab world inspires flashes of anger and humour in equal measure, unveiling a thread of dark comedy that runs throughout much of what she says. It’s laughter as subversion; satire as disruption. It’s a way of deconstructing the severity of the issues facing her ancestral home in Tunisia.
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