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Sylvia Schwenk

Sylvia Schwenk creates new perspectives of the everyday and the familiar. Her practice looks at the relationship between performance and the everyday, reflecting upon the significance and beauty of commonplace activities and spaces. 

Sometimes she captures a moment, space or action with photographs, films, text and/or installations. Other times she creates  works which focus on inter-human relational practices that emphasise collaboration, dialogue and audience activation. These socially engaged works of performance art using what she calls performosis – a process where everyday people become performers, and spectators and passers-by performing their daily activities become active parts in the work Sylvia directs.

Sylvia’s practice unites art with social considerations. She works closely with communities in projects that explore localissues, creating works of art that are both context-responsive and universal in their presentation.

Sylvia is an artist of international standing who performs and exhibits her work in Europe, the USA, Canada, India and Australia. She is the recipient of numerous commissions, awards, grants and scholarships. Her work is held in public and private art collections. 

Her works of socially engaged performance art are performed in everyday situations in spaces as diverse as prisons, Naval bases, football grand finals, public transport, model airplane fields and art institutions. Her commissions to create works of performance art  include: the Royal Australian Navy (to commemorate the 100th anniversary); Art Fairs (Sydney and Melbourne); Art Month project (lawns of the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney); and the European Union (on the German and Dutch border).

Sylvia’s short films are exhibited internationally and screened at international film festivals including: the 13th and 12th In the Palace International Short Film Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria; The Contemporary Art Fair Ruhr (‘CAR’), Essen, Germany; the Croydon International Film Festival, London, UK and the 8th and 9th Berlin International Directors’ Lounge Festivals, Berlin, Germany.

Sylvia completed her Doctorate at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney Australia. She also studied at the Köln International School of Design and the Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany. She has completed artist residencies with the Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, Germany, albb Saigon, Vietnam, the Academy of the Arts, University of Tasmania, Mosman Art Gallery and HMAS Penguin, Sydney, Australia.

Sylvia also presents conference papers and lectures about her research on performance art and her artistic practice locally and internationally.