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Surfer artist rockstar

by Dr Christopher Chapman, 1 March 2011

Christopher Chapman talks with Scott Redford about his character Reinhardt Dammn.

Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn
Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn

Brisbane artist Scott Redford pulls apart cultural constructions of selfhood and creates mashed-up versions of masculinity. Into an art practice that is broad ranging in form and iconography while maintaining a dramatic sense of focus and purpose, Redford has introduced the ‘character’ of Reinhardt Dammn.

This twenty-something contemporary artist/surfer dude has rock star ambitions. Dammn’s most recent outing was as part of Redford’s major exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery Scott Redford: Introducing Reinhardt Dammn where Redford’s celebrated surfboard sculptures shared space with Dammn’s vivid blue and white expressionist ‘instant paintings’ of sea and surf. Dammn’s artworks were designed by Redford to be props in a feature film about the energetic life of Reinhardt Dammn but they have already gained a currency in the ‘real’ art world. The Reinhardt Dammn cosmos incorporates myriad artworks with a pop–punk edge, screen tests and photo-shoots, all with the elaboration of Reinhardt Dammn in mind. Recently Redford produced and directed a series of photograph sessions and was happy to explain the process.

cc: How to these photographs relate to the Reinhardt Dammn project?
sr: I like creating images of people. People like images of other people as they can often recognise themselves in them. The notion of me re-contextualising fine artworks as props for a mainstream feature film could seem too conceptual and abstract for some, hopefully these portrait images help clarify the project’s narrative for a wider audience.

The casting of a model to play Reinhardt gives him strong symbolic qualities. It’s like, ‘Oh the character looks like that’. He’s vain but vulnerable and impossibly handsome so he must be a ‘star’. ‘Film star looks’ means someone would have to lead an idealised and unique life. In a similar way, we tend to consider fashion models as another category of person. The boys could be Reinhardt or they could be in his gang. The photographs also serve the purpose of being production development shoots where locales and props and images can be tried out.

Originally I had imagined Reinhardt as the archetypal Aussie surfer type. However, very recently I realised that he need NOT be a blond surfer boy. He could be any race or mix of race. It’s the ability of the actor chosen to portray Reinhardt Dammn (the charismatic over-the-top character, a Surfer Hamlet) that would first govern my choice in casting for the film.

How did you source the models?
Michael Booth came from a modelling agency and Hamish Whillans and Noah Ford came via Noah’s mum Andrea, through surfboard-maker Chris Garrett’s contacts at Burleigh Boardriders. They were all enthusiastic models who I would like to work with again.

How did you collaborate with the photographers and the models?
As in the case of making a film, collaboration is key. Fine art production is becoming increasingly like this too. I set up the shoot and some of the props and locale and overall thematic but I have help in securing models and then everyone pitches in with ideas. Its always better to get your models to do what they feel comfortable doing otherwise they will look stiff, especially when using non-professionals. I have to stay in charge somehow as it would fall apart but I often prefer to delegate lighting and technical decisions to the photographers. I have been accused of being too much like the famously observational artist Andy Warhol in directing: The, ‘Oh, just do it’ school.

What’s next for you with Reinhardt Dammn?
The next thing to do is to write the actual screenplay. I have been scouting around for a professional screenwriter, as I’m not silly enough to think I can write a proper screenplay alone. Screenplays are always the most difficult part of film, and Australian film has always known its screenplays were its weakest link. I met a screenwriter the other day who I told I’d left the second act to my collaborator and she baulked: ‘Great, you left the long parched empty desert to someone else, hey!’ She meant that writing the second act is by far the hardest. So I am a lazy and not very good scriptwriter obviously, only interested in ‘the look’ of it all; which retro pop songs to appropriate, which older films to groovily quote and so on. But the script as a proper film script is my next goal. Time to get serious.

5 portraits

1Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn
. 2Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn
. 3Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn
. 4Scott Redford: Introducing
Reinhardt Dammn

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Scott Redford

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