Tony Schwensen’s interdisciplinary practice examines the deeply flawed underbelly of cultural life, specifically the clash that occurs at the intersection of artistic values and the economies of production and distribution. Schwensen is best known for his rigorous conceptual works that engage satirically with aspects of Australia’s working-class and suburban culture to challenge contemporary political issues and notions of masculinity. In the form of quasi-self-portraits, his works often parallel political correctness and everyday experiences with artistic and cultural orthodoxies; his durational performance works also testing the endurance and limits of the artist’s body and the audience’s attention. Since relocating to the USA in 2007, Schwensen’s practice has focused predominantly on the notion of American Exceptionalism.

Schwensen has maintained an active participation in contemporary art practice since the late 1980s, associated in the 1990s with Sydney’s grunge art scene. In 1988, Schwensen was awarded the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, which enable him to live and work in Rotterdam, The Netherlands from 1999–2001. Schwensen’s work is held in several collections both in Australia and internationally, including: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Musee d’Art Moderne et Contemporaine, Geneva, Switzerland; Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, as well as private collections throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North America and Canada. From 2008–2016, Schwensen was a full-time lecturer at the Performance School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.