As deeply fascinated by the conceptual as the biographical, this comprehensive portrait of one of our great experimental artists is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in New Zealand art and music.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Few Kiwi artists have had such an enlivening impact on fine arts as Philip Dadson with his international reputation for sonic invention, sophisticated video-installation art and innovative experimentation in the field of sound. He is arguably best known for founding the avant-garde ensemble From Scratch, which would use everything from old lampshades to customised PVC pipes to perform its intricate, rhythmic compositions. This polished and engaging documentary charts Dadson’s career from his humble beginnings in Napier through to his eventual recognition on the world stage (an international exposure in the 80s rivalled only by Split Enz).
Aided by the warm, laid-back presence of the subject himself, filmmakers Simon Ogston and Orlando Stewart craft a polished and comprehensive overview of Dadson’s life and work, roping in various academics, historians and even some of his scratch orchestra alumni to weigh in on his legacy. In examining the creative collision of Dadson’s insatiable curiosity and infectious energy with fellow members of his collective, the film explores an ethos of community and collaboration that’s quietly life-affirming.
Featuring dynamic archival footage of From Scratch’s most iconic performances, this is a vivid portrait of creative ingenuity and a paean to the role of collectivism in realising great art. It all results in a call to arms persuasive enough to send audiences scrambling through their sheds and garages for potential makeshift instruments. — JF