Proxemics | Contemporary Arts


In Addis, we share spaces with strangers as well as close acquaintances – each with their own understanding and requirement for privacy. Taking the public transit area, specifically the blue mini bus taxis, as a basis for this installation we observe how people behave differently based on the amount of space they put between themselves and others. PROXEMICS, as an attempt to interpret the spatial divide at play across the city, also emphasizes the need to mediate between the dichotomies created through space: visible – invisible, public-private.

We recognize endless points of intervention in one taxi ride Long short loud quiet it doesn’t matter There is always a negotiation of public and private spaces taking place In intimate spaces such as taxi buses. And of course there is no such thing as a neutral observer.

The minute we start recording the atmosphere or conversation, a sort of invasion transpires, we are entering a private space unsolicited.

Then our interpretation of space broadens – beyond the spatial understanding we start to think about other spheres in which we demand privacy (cognitive, corporeal, memory, dreams]

Take a phone conversation for example some people when accepting a call in public – tend to wonder off to an open space move anything and everything in front of them to get to a corner loiter back and forth some are unbelievably loud taking more space than they normally would this is because they have chosen to remove themselves from their immediate surrounding and regard the conversation over the phone as their primary landscape for negotiation.

In turn they trespass their allotted area in shared spaces and infringe on others’ The term trespass/breaching might imply or connote conflict. Of course there is a sort of violation that happens when People actively or passively dance to demarcate their private space But at times this entanglement of private spaces result in Serendipity

The best sense to illustrate this with will be scent It’s not likely that we get close enough to strangers to smell their perfume but when crammed in a taxi bus – we don’t have any other choice Then say this scent that wafts across your nose brings with it memories of good and joyous times still unsolicited but this time fortuitous. Didn’t Proust spew a 7 volume walk down memory lane from the smell of a Madeline dipped in tea.

What Makes Design African  or Ethiopian

Design is a responsive and interactive medium entwined with the contemporary identity and integrity of the people who created/developed it and those it serves. An identity qualifier for a design concept as “African” defies the fluidity of the art and subjects the work to the confines of a reductive narrative about a diverse and multi-faceted continent. Labeling a work of art as “African” primarily serves obtuse intentions of capitalist and/or colonialist goals– to restrain a complex and evolving idea within an easy to swallow parameter.


Artists, cultural managers and conscious audience members have the capacity to change this dynamics either by reclaiming it or by demanding comprehensive dealings with the meaning and intentions behind using such broad and contested word. In my artistic practice, I avoid defining my work as African and tread cautiously and intentionally in outlining its relationship to Africa.


SARAH ABDU BUSHRA works with the body as the focal point of exploration and a metaphor to navigate Ethiopian contemporary identity through performance, curatorial practice and art writing. She is interested in cultural management and as an artist and programmer facilitates the current movement towards increasing visibility and authentic representations of Ethiopian culture in contemporary contexts.

YASMIN ABDU BUSHRA is a progressive architect and urbanist exploring architectural curation, construction, product design and writing beyond the compass of architectural and urban design in the pursuit of resilient and inclusive sustainable cities and communities.

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