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Diana Azzuz: Was it meant to be something else?

Interview by @valeriiakaraman
Aug 18, 2021
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Hey, Diana, how are your days going? What’s cooking what’s shaking?

Hey! All good, taking some time from work to rest and getting back to socializing with people. Last June, I left my apartment three times probably, which is definitely unhealthy.

You have an unusual surname and interesting features! Would you tell us a bit more about your roots and your background?

I’m half-Syrian on my dad’s side. I used to live in Syria and went there to school, but then we moved to Libya where my dad is still working. Eventually, my mom, me and my brother went back to Ukraine, but I would still visit my syrian family. Unfortunately, I don’t see them that often right now for the known reasons. I really dream about taking my friends to Syria and showing them the country. It’s something else there. You know that film ‘Stealing Beauty’ by Bertolucci (which is, by the way, not my favorite film he made)? The aura of it really reminds me of that life. We have a house outside the city amidst the fields with olive trees and whatnot, and you can just go to the garden and pick lemons, figs etc. I really miss that, the family gatherings in the evening, drinking mate, the music and the crazy weddings ending in dabke.

As I know you used to live in China at some point. I wonder what brought you there and how long did you stay there for?

My life before China hasn’t been linked to anything in Ukraine, and I practically didn’t have any friends, so I decided to go there, study the language and see what happens. I lived there for about eight months, met a bunch of interesting people. When I think about it, all the friends that I have now, I met in my post-China life, and I’m truly grateful to have met all these cool and smart people.  

Have you been traveling a lot? What’s your favorite city and why?

I had been traveling before the covid, and I can’t wait to start doing that again. My favorite city is...Berlin! Just kidding. To be honest, I can’t say I can choose one favorite city. Generally for me, it’s hard to choose one thing over another. I like a lot of different places. It usually depends on the people that I meet or want to see, the scene, the timing etc.

How does the change of the environment affect your art? Do you get inspired by the local culture or your art is mostly a post internet phenomenon?

I think it’s the latter. The local culture definitely has its effect on me, but what I do is mostly informed by my attempt to figure out my past, nostalgia for it, the authenticity of it, and where I stand with it.

What’s your opinion on the role of social media in modern society?

Very bad *nervously laughs*. I feel like I’m going to state the obvious, but social media has taken the wrong direction. But the question is was it meant to be something else? There is so much misinformation, all these infographics that people just keep resharing. But I think it’s a trap for feeling exaltation and fake union with the others against ”the big evil”. It could also be compared to that feeling of the sublime, similar to a religious experience.

And what I’m talking about is just one tiny angle. Of course, it has its own advantages. I mean, more artists have been sharing their art online and finding their audience etc. Though I kind of feel there is this pressure to produce more and more, which becomes undeniably unhealthy, and it becomes a matter of quantity rather than quality.

One of my friends recently told me that they don’t ever post any selfies without using a filter, which is petrifying to me, because there is a forced choice to create a body of oneself that doesn’t belong to us anymore.

Do you think that digitalization is replacing classical fine art or moving it to the whole new level?

I doubt that digitalization will ever replace the aura of the body of art that we can experience offline. It’s a completely different dimension. We saw what was happening with NFTs, everyone became an NFT artist (what does that even mean?). Naturally, when you’re an artist and you sell your art, it’s becoming a business. I think it depends on where the capital flows. I’ve heard from a curator that I’ve worked with that there are collectors who buy only NFTs. The digitalization allows some art to be conceptualized and contextualized in the digital space. At some point, everything could be seen as art as long as you call it so. It’s definitely a whole new level, but I don’t think we should talk about it in terms of replacement. Or call me a lost romantic.

How did you imagine the future when you were a kid? Are some of your hopes justified?

Tbh, I can’t remember how I imagined my future. A lot of times it was just about ‘survival’ in high school. I used to be an absolute nerd, as I’m sure many of us think we were. I wasn’t really spoken to unless someone needed their homework done etc. I spent a lot of time dreaming about the imaginary world where I meet other musicians and hang out with them haha

I have to say things have turned out really good for me so far.

You have a nice sense of humor according to your Instagram stories. Do you see a “meme thing” as a direction of contemporary art?

Thanks! I do feel like a good sense of humor is one of the defining traits in people that I become friends with. What I love about the meme culture is that it’s a good communicative tool. It obviously is a part of pop-culture. If I were still a student, I’d probably base my dissertation on researching memes, but I’m sure so many people have already done it.

When did you realize that you want to make art? What was first: visuals or sounds?

Music was first. I don’t remember the exact moment, but I think I was around twelve when I asked my mom and grandmother to buy me a guitar, but they refused saying it was too late to learn how to play it, since both of them were classically trained, and my grandmother used to sing in an opera choir. Eventually, I bought it myself years later.

Would you agree with the opinion that self education can replace schools, academies, etc..? And what about your education?

I do think you can learn certain things by yourself. I spent some time thinking that I would’ve been better off if I hadn’t studied in high school. I still hate it, and I don’t get people who say these were the best years of their life. I majored in philosophy, and one of the things that I appreciate about it was reading and the discussions

Some disciplines require practice, and some you can’t learn by yourself, but generally institutional education in the current format that we have in Ukraine is overrated. Generally, here we lack cultural institutions or collective projects that you could be a part of.

Do you like children and do you want to have one yourself?

Ask me in a couple of years, but right now I don’t want children and I’m not planning to, especially considering climate change and where we’re heading with it.

You had an interesting collaboration SUI NOXA with Rina Priduvalova. How did you synchronize to start making the project together? What’s the idea behind this project?

Thanks! We met a couple of years ago through a mutual friend. Me and Rina were already working on music and visuals together. Then we were approached by the label Standard Deviation, so we ended up making this audiovisual piece SUI NOXA. This project talks about the digital reality as an inherent part of everyone's lives that  brings a closer look at how one may abuse their freedom (of being anonymous, of self-exploration etc.) in a non apparent yet destructive way. It is an attempt to scrutinize one's behaviour online, narrate their choice board, as well as draw parallels between the virtual and the material worlds in regards to the influence our actions have in both of them. It is to urge people to take responsibility for the impact our choices have on the grand scheme of things, that is the core subject of the project.

Are you girls together as a couple or is it just a collaborative partnership?

It’s amazing to be able to work with someone without wanting to kill them. I’m actually pretty picky when it comes to collaborations.

Do you believe in love? Does it make you more productive or maybe it distracts you from your art?

I guess so? To be honest, I’ve only been in one relationship during my whole life, so it’s hard to say because I haven’t really loved that many times!

I guess it could make me more productive, especially, when I’m with someone who is doing their own thing and working on their own stuff. But there are times when I have to know that I’m alone to be able to work on my art.

Congratulations on your new solo EP "Anastrophe”! It’s sick! I wonder why you named the track “Recursive gesture”, is it connected to your personal or professional side of life?

Thanks! I had a hard time choosing the names for the tracks. It’s more personal and connected to the whole idea of the album name. It’s the ouroboros, the circle of life!

What are you focused on right now? Any upcoming projects?

Making more music. If before it used to be more of a hobby that I was occasionally dipping my feet into, then now I’m 100% invested in it. 

Are you planning on more collaborations? Which artist would you like to collaborate with?

I would definitely like to collaborate with someone, but remember I’m picky.

What was the last music album added to your playlist?

Mechanical Flirtations by Saint Abdullah. ‘Void of Veil And Curtain’ is currently my favorite track.

You’re making both visual art and music. Is there any other discipline you would like to try?

Yeah, I’d like to try a few things in the future, especially, something that involves working with raw material. I’d like the process of working with metals and maybe ceramics. I’ve already bought equipment to make my own jewelry or some pieces of the sort.

Acting is one of the things I’ve always wanted to try. 

Are there any words you would like to tell all the young artists at the beginning of their creative path?

It’s going to sound so cliché, but you’ll get there.

Thanks ♥️




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