Sylvia Schwenk 

Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty

Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty is a 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 see a 30 second preview

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. 

 

Click on the image to see a 30 second preview


This is a simple video work with music and sound. It is engagingly framed and provides the foundations of a story of a mental asylum (that is no longer in use), which the viewer completes with their own constructed narrative.  This work also includes a series of photographs.

 

Click on the image to see a 1 minute preview.

five Prison stories relays 5 stories about life in prison in a relaxed, private and almost humorous way. The work gives an insight into a way of living and area of society that most people have no exposure to or experience with. The stories are told in the third person and are set against images and footage of the inside of a prison. The film makes the inaccessible accessible in a simple and highly engaging way. This work also includes a series of photographs.

The video has been selected as a finlaise for the Stan and Maureen Duke Gold Coast Art Award. It is being screened at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery until 5 February 2012.