Tim Sharp

Article Bio Works Projects www
identity, politics, racism
Visual Arts (installation art, photography, video art)
Europe, Western, America, South
Austria, Scotland (UK), Brazil
created on:
August 31, 2004
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Tim Sharp
Tim Sharp. Courtesy of the artist


The other Casablanca

ARTIST STATEMENT/ POSTCARD PROJECT OF THE HOUSE OF WORLD CULTURES 2007 ´I am currently interested in history as constructed viewpoints and as part of a normative regime; power structures controlling the past in order to determine the future; artist works with found material (film/photographs/industrial ruins).´ (Tim Sharp) He is not only one of the most politically active artists in Austria but also an author, activist, translator and creator of exhibitions. Having spent more than 25 years in Vienna, Tim Sharp, born in Perth / Scotland in 1974, often makes films using historical documentary and cineastic materials. His works are about minorities and social outsiders, about latent racism and silly clichés, about foreigners and the presentation of the foreign and are notable for their use of montage.
Tim Sharp, a resident of Vienna for a quarter of a century, is an artist who explicitly thinks of his work as being political and thus extends it to fields which are not necessarily thought to belong to the arts-sphere in the first place. In his home country of choice, Sharp regularly appears before the public with anti-racist appeals and takes part in migrant-initiatives and projects.

His films focus mostly on themes concerning the ´foreign´ leaving little doubt that the foreign and the image of the foreign in most European cultures are as unlike as chalk and cheese. The difference between a way of life and its presentation is the basic theme in works like the 13-minute video ´Travellers´ Tales´ (2003), in which Sharp turns, for instance, to the Tuareg to show how Western stereotypes direct and misdirect attention and affect its objects.

Sharp´s way of cutting and combining historical ´documents´ found on a flea-market shows the absurdity of the construction of exotica. In his ´Travellers´ Tales´ , the supposedly objective records of the living conditions and habits of the Tuareg are shown to be rather arrogant and basically naïve clichés. ´Maybe,´ says Sharp, ´the filmmakers really meant to show the reality of the Tuareg, but their approach turned the Tuareg into actors waiting for cues to do "typical" Tuareg things in an aesthetically acceptable way.´

In another work, called ´I_D_Entities/SCRAM´ Sharp uses the island of Helgoland as the starting point for a series of hand-coloured collage photographs. In 1890 Helgoland, which until then had belonged to Great Britain, was handed over and incorporated into the German Empire in exchange for the island of Zanzibar. Sharp manipulated a series of historical postcards in such a way that he copied the figure of a black African onto the original picture and added extracts from currently valid regulations about immigration, allegedly the ´key´ to a new identity.

The use of historical materials is a hallmark of Sharp´s artistic approach. In the video-work ´Dar-el-Beida´ (1996, 2.40 minutes) he refers to one of the most famous films ever made: ´Casablanca´ (1942) by Michael Curtiz. Through a swift and dense montage of scenes from the film, Sharp intensifies the threatening atmosphere of the prototype to an omnipresent terrifying image of arbitrariness, dependence and totalitarianism. Unlike the original, his version has nothing of heroism and male bonds. In this respect ´Dar-el-Beida´ (the Moroccan name of the town) is the flip-side of the coin.

Apart from making films, and working with photography and graphics, Tim Sharp is also a writer, translator and organiser of exhibitions. He exhibited and took part in many projects by the ´micro-national State of Sabotage´ (SOS) called into being by Czech-Austrian writer Robert Jelinek. The aim of this ironic anti-nationalistic project is to undermine and caricature inner-state conventions. At various performance-like happenings, passports were issued and national flags designed and an initiative was launched to have the sovereignty of SOS recognised (www.sabotage.at). Tim Sharp lives and works in Vienna.
Author: Ulrich Clewing


1947 born in Perth in Scotland
1966-72 study of law in Nottingham and London
1974-78 travel and studies in the USA, Mexico, Central and South America
1978 - in Vienna
1980 - exhibitions of works of art (paintings, objects, installations)


Exhibition (choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2004 Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz; Villa Arson, Nice 2002 A9-Forum Transeuropa, Vienna; Quartier 21, Vienna; Grazer Kunstverein 2000 Kunsthalle Wien; Schikaneder Kino, Vienna 1999 Haus Wittgenstein, Vienna


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Postcard Project

(01 March 07 - 31 December 08)

Black Atlantic

(17 September 04 - 15 November 04)


CD «ImagiNative»


produced in conjunction with the Black Atlantic project of the House of World Cultures, Berlin 2004