May 12, 2009

John Cale: interview in The Guardian about the Venice Biennale project

John Cale (c) Sarah Lee
photo: Sarah Lee

Jonathan Jones has written an article in UK newspaper The Guardian about John Cale and the commission for the Venice Biennale:

I am watching Cale's work for Venice on curator Bruce Haines's laptop. (Haines secured the commission after writing to Cale's record company and inviting him to make an artwork - simple as that.) Seeing a five-screen video projection on a computer screen is not ideal, and sounds that in Venice will echo through a brewery reach me on headphones. I am told by Haines to skim through the bits that drag.

I don't touch the cursor once. I am transfixed. This is fantastic. It was one thing hearing Cale talk about his return home, another watching this raw material transformed. The camera focuses on architectural details in an old house - Cale's old house. As it scrutinises peeling paint on a door frame, a passionate, wistful song fills the soundtrack. Cale sings of having to "Hollywood" this place - as if the very act of filming it is a betrayal. In a wonderful spoken-word recording, like a cross between Dylan Thomas and William S Burroughs played on an old radio, Cale says his childhood home was "the first place he became aware of symmetry". On film, he is walking up a mountain, his feet clinking on loose black slate.

The images in Dyddiau Du/Dark Days are lucid and exact, but it is the audio that makes this film extraordinary. In effect, Cale has created a filmed concept album and called it an artwork. It is utterly compelling, deeply felt. His renewed relationship with Wales continues to grow: he has just finished filming a documentary about drug-taking in the valleys for BBC Wales.


(Thanks: David Squires)

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