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Sarah Abdu Bushra is an exhibition curator. Her research concerns three East African countries - Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda - she documents an interconnected artistic ecosystem in these territories, still little known. Invited by Visa pour la création of a residency led by Versant Sud, Sarah Abdu Bushra worked on visual arts research based on the exchange of ideas and practices between Addis Ababa and Marseille.

Fata Morgana

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Research residency

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8 weeks

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AAF presentation



Visas for creation 

Fata Morgana*
*a mirage that makes objects on the horizon appear as if they were suspended between heaven and earth (not here not there, somewhere in between)


On a map of a city, a sprawling exhibition space, or similar public places that are difficult to navigate, there will sometimes appear a dot that signifies where the person is at the moment. It reads "you are here". As I begin to grapple with the feeling of a new place, it is important to situate my position and mark a geographical starting point to chart the way forward. I think of this text as a map, guiding the reader through the string of extracts from art and literature, presented as gateways to moments of contemplation aroused by my varied experiences in the city of Marseille. These quotes are an invitation to follow an emotional journey of thinking, traced by the topography of my report to Marseille during the 2 months that I spent (June 31 to August 31) in curatorial residence at the Versant Sud.

Teju Cole, in an interview about his new book Fernweh, discussed distance as desirable and restorative. Fernweh, which can be freely translated from German this far away, describes the main sentiment carried by artists and art professionals in Addis Ababa. Caught between a raging war and a semblance of normalcy, Addis' cultural landscape is experiencing a moment of paralysis. My trip to Marseille aims to catalyze a paradigm shift, to dig a space of contemplation to take a step back, regroup and better articulate the contemporary reality of art coming from East Africa as a spokesperson for restorative justice. . The Ethiopian art scene is rebuilding. It's now like an open wound - sensitive to every touch. But this discomfort is necessary for the transition. He will not be able to expose new skin without getting rid of the old - and the landscape will be completely unprotected.


My research interest in Marseille stems from the work of Versant Sud, a cultural operator linking Addis Ababa, among other cities in sub-Saharan Africa, to the south of France. The starting point for bringing these two localities together is their common challenge in the absence of a local art market and the inaccessibility to nodes/hubs of the global art ecosystem. Versant Sud acts as a bridge between artists living and working in these cities and the art market. My work as an independent curator as well as within the Nuits contemporaines collective is part of this objective - to act as a conduit connecting art and artists to a wide audience.


"I've always enjoyed the reflective and meditative space of writing. My move into curating wasn't a shift - I don't think it was a gradual process. I'm beginning to understand how much I enjoyed building stories by weaving together works by artists I admire."

© Making of: Versant Sud.

in partnership with 


Visas for Creation

Visas for Creation is part of the “Africa and Caribbean in Creations” program. Its objective is to support artistic emergence in Africa and the Caribbean through residencies in metropolitan France and in overseas regions to enable them to develop a creative or research project.

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