Phil Dadson, a seminal figure in New Zealand’s art history, is presenting a major exhibition at Auckland’s Trish Clark Gallery, his first since 2006 in AUT’s St Paul St Gallery. Throughout his career Dadson has been the recipient of many key awards and fellowships, enabling numerous international residency, exhibition and festival opportunities. In 2001 he received a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate award, in 2003 an Antarctic Artist Fellowship and was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2005.
Renowned both for pushing the boundaries of sound and intermedia art since the 70s and for his influence on a generation of now leading mid-career artists, Dadson’s highly inventive transdisciplinary approach makes for a visually rich and compelling exhibition.
Four earlier films with a weekly gallery turnaround provide some archival history, as does Gregor Nicholas’s brilliant film of the legendary From Scratch performance of Pacific 3,2,1, Zero, awarded the Croisette d’Or Grand Prix at the Cannes Music Film Awards in 1994, and now included in the Permanent Film Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is exhibited here courtesy of Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Video remains a constant passion for Dadson, and three new video works, shot in Chile’s high Atacama Desert, explore the physical landscape in both macro and micro imagery, alongside the artist’s unexpected interventions in the beautiful but deeply inhospitable landscape. Two other videos, the 3-channel Fate of Things To Come (2013) and Between Worlds (2011) give lyrical expression to Dadson’s long-time environmental concerns, which are further amplified in ‘rock records’ gathered in Antarctica and on Auckland’s most recent addition to its extensive volcanic field, Rangitoto Island.
Building experimental musical instruments and sonic objects has always held fascination for Dadson, and was the genesis of the From Scratch project, so brilliantly realized both in New Zealand and on international tours. This exhibition has brought the extraordinary Octet (2014) into being. Experiencing the new gallery space, Dadson devised a work to respond to the gallery acoustics and to the octagonally radiating beams of the soaring central square gallery – a performing sound sculpture, the performers replaced by eight alluring bright red horns.