Sylvia Schwenk 

Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty, 2011

Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty is the name of a new body of work which tell stories about prisons and asylums in a beautifully simple, yet powerful way with video works and photographs. These works consider spaces, lives and environments that are off limits to most of society, as well as looking at the notion of what performance in the everyday means for those who live in a space where private and public co-exist – sometimes simultaneously.

 

 

Click on the image to view the video (3 mins 56' loop).

Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty is a also the title of a mesmerising work which shows a man Sylvia invited to perform - dancing with a lawnmower to a harrowingly beautiful waltz, whilst mowing the lawn in an area surrounded by perimeter fencing, alarmed fences, and razor wire. 

The lawn being mowed is an oasis in the maximum security area of a prison. The space offers a respite from the confinement of the prison cells and the cold metal surfaces and concrete of the prison. The space is rectangular in shape, it is grassed, it has concrete paths bi-secting the area and has about 20 magnificent towering palm trees. 

It almost seems surreal. The air seems sweeter and fresher here. The waltz is filled with hope but is underwritten with a score of despair.