Jessica Schwientek is a fine artist working within the expansive realm of photography. Focussed primarily on process and the cathartic act of image making Schwientek’s work always has the human condition at its core. Expressing sadness, grief, love, exhaustion and anger she attempts to make sense of her place within existence.
Jessica Schwientek is currently working as an artist in residence for the GBiennale 2021 (located within ACMIx) on a project titled 'Regarding Consumption'.
Regarding consumption is a series of moving landscape photographs considering mass consumer culture amidst a dying world.
Comprised of hand-processed analogue imagery and an academic paper contemplating the human psychological need to consume.
(Image to the right is an experimental piece created during the residency)
Schwientek is working with Creative Laneways and the City of Melbourne on a laneway commission as part of the Flash Forward project alongside 39 other visual artists and 40 musical acts.
The project is titled Some Things Last a Long Time and explores the lasting and debilitating effects of trauma.
With the work to be displayed down the end of a dark and looming laneway, Schwientek wanted to work with the experience of fear and the menacing nature of the exhibition space itself.
The five photographic works each revisit a site of personal trauma of the artist. As long exposure photographs shot during the night, Schwientek was forced to reflect on her traumatic pasts for the duration of each exposure; often in locations where she is at her most vulnerable.
Laneway location and install dates to be confirmed in the very near future along with the many exciting announcements the coincide with the Flash Forward project.
In conversation with CCP curator Jack Willet on Saturday 22nd May 2021.
Photo Credit: Keira Hudson (https://www.keirahudson.com)
Exhibited from April 23 - June 13th 2021 alongside exceptional Australian artists:
Hannah Brontë, Hootan Heydari, Callum McGrath, Anne Moffat, Sara Oscar, Sanja Pahoki and Emmaline Zanelli.
Photo Credits: Keira Hudson (https://www.keirahudson.com)
Sadness is Sexy, Jessica Schwientek’s ongoing study of intimate self-portraits, draws from an expansive archive of personal photographs that were never intended to enter the public sphere, but in doing so have become critical to the artist's identity. This selection of over 100 images – self-portraits that do not always depict the self – is but a glimpse into the expansive collection that Schwientek’s project encapsulates.
Snapped compulsively over time, like entries in a personal diary capturing moments of stillness and vulnerability, the artist views every image as a mirror reflecting back everything she feels and perceives within a given moment. The artist notes: “Sadness is Sexy is compiled of images that strike the heart with great force, images captured moments before or after tragedies. Moments of quiet. Moments of connection. Moments torn into pieces. Images attempting, desperately, to connect with the big empty world.”
This project sees Schwientek photograph with her heart. By capturing the stillness of an instant without the aid of her eye, Schwientek invites us to experience her most intimate moments at the
juncture between pressing the shutter and recording the emptiness of time.
Image credit: Hallowed Ground by Samantha Gregory
Schwientek was the chair of a panel discussion around analogue and experimental photographic process with Platform Arts on the 11th of March 2021.
The panel took place in response to Platform Arts exhibiting artist Samantha Gregory and their photographic works.
"with a panel chaired by established analogue photographic artist and Director of Noir Darkroom, Jessica Schwientek. This panel features emerging and established artists who are working within the experimental and analogue photographic medium, and includes Geelong-based artist Jonathan Dredge, Sydney-based artist Samantha Gregory, and Melbourne-based artists Guy Grabowsky and Keira Hudson."
Schwientek recently exhibited at Millepiani Gallery in Rome, Italy as part of the 'Diaries' exhibition curated by Loosen Art.
All works in the exhibition are auto ethnographic of each artist looking closely into their own personal and intimate lives.
I exhibited alongside some great fellow artists including Glenn Sloggett, Emma Armstrong-Porter and Kelvin Skewes to name a few in a rogue exhibition in a bike tunnel under the M80 Motorway.
This was an exhibition experiment pushing away form the traditional concept of gallery and exhibition space working directly with the landscapes that inform out works. Looking at consumer culture, social class, poverty and trash.
As somebody who has never been to a rave this sure was a unique experience.
I was nominated by a local community member for the Moreland award for 'Contribution to Arts and Culture' in the Moreland region.
I was beyond surprised to be nominated for the award, let alone to also be selected as the official winner.
It was humbling to have all of the hard work myself and my volunteers put into NOIR Darkroom to create a safe and accessible arts space recognised by the greater community.
My ongoing body of work 'Sadness is Sexy' exhibited for the first time in hard copy at NOIR Darkroom in August 2019.
86 silver gelatine and colour giclee photographs from the collection spilled across NOIR's walls in an absolute organised chaos. Self portraits wove in between portraits of strangers, portraits people I love and hollow landscapes.
As an artist enchanted by emptiness and stillness I do not photograph with my eye, I photograph with my heart. Every time I press the shutter I capture all of the things I feel within that moment. I seek out sadness in the world, real or perceived, in desperation to connect.
I was asked to speak as a panel member at CCP's forum 'Ode to the Camera' curated by Linsey Gosper.
As somebody who puts gear last when it comes to arts practice it was a beautiful way to discuss my art practice and the significances of a moment over a camera.
I spoke alongside some incredibly talented artists including Glenn Sloggett, Tom Goldner and Ali McCann.
Photo by Stephanie Wood
I was featured in Frankie magazine as a successful arts worker coming out of university education.
It follows my journey opening NOIR Darkroom and what it takes to run an independent arts space in Melbourne.
Silence, 2018, Digital video from 8mm film, 2 mins 35 seconds and audio piece on cassette tape 2 mins 9 seconds (Schwientek & Santuccione)
Stay safe. Words spoken out of love, out of care and out of fear.
They are shifting blame before any action has taken place. The weight
of the situation rests on our shoulders. It should not rest on our
The sexually violent end to her life was not because she did not stay
safe it was because his urges overrode her rights.
Silence is about shifting the weight. Silence is the struggle of trying to
be heard in a parliament of men. Silence is about the confidence in a
woman’s ability to navigate this world without having to stay safe
because she should just be.
Silence is about speaking up and screaming out. Silence is about the
fight. We fight because we must. Until we no longer need to, there will
not be silence.
words by Amanda Santuccione