John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Timeline: 2009 - The Venice Biennale

Meeting the Welsh Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones

Representing Wales at Venice Biennale

John Cale represents Wales at the 53rd Venice Biennale of Art 2009 in Italy with a new, specially commissioned installation.

It's called Dyddiau Du/Dark Days, a multimedia project about his Welsh heritage, including footage of Garnant - the sunrise is filmed at the house where he was born - and the nearby Black Mountains. He used five high resolution screens for the movies, with texts in both Welsh and English. The footage was accompanied by a new song written for the occasion.

The exhibition was opened June 9, with Cale meeting the Welsh Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones.

"Re-engaging with Wales was a very important part of this piece. (..) It involved my approach to my music, it involved my approach to my parents, my house. And how it refelected in my life nowadays."
Stills form Dark Days

Press release

The Arts Council of Wales announced that John Cale will represent Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art 2009 with a new, specially commissioned installation. The Venice Biennale, inaugurated in 1895, is the world’s pre-eminent showcase for contemporary art, and 2009 will be Wales’ fourth presentation at this prestigious event.

Born in Garnant, South Wales, John Cale attended Goldsmiths College, London. In 1963, Cale moved to New York, where he met LaMonte Young, Andy Warhol, and Lou Reed, with whom he founded The Velvet Underground. For Wales at Venice 2009, Cale will produce a new audio-visual work made in Wales, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers and poets. The work has at its heart Cale’s own personal relationship with the Welsh language and the issues surrounding communication. The work will fill the majestic Capannone space at the Ex-Birreria, the old brewery building on the island of Giudecca and home to Wales’ three previous presentations at the Biennale.

John Cale said: “As surprised and honoured as I was to be asked to contribute to the Welsh presentation at the Venice Biennale of Art 2009 it also was a challenge that I eagerly accepted. It offers an occasion to address certain pernicious issues in my background that had lain dormant for so long. There are certain experiences uniquely suited to the exorcism of mixed media and I am grateful for this opportunity to address them.”
Cale in Venice

Hobart, Essen, Swansea, New York, Llanberis, Cardiff

The project was also shown at the MOFO 2010 Festival in Hobart, Australia (January 4-31 2010); Essen, Germany (July 9 and 10, 2010); Swansea, Wales (October 8 – November 7, 2010). The installation goes home for showings at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, (March 25 - April 3, 2011) and as part of the opening of the extended new art galleries at the National Museum in Cardiff in Wales in the Summer of 2011.

He also discussed the project at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York (February 15, 2010).

© 1999- Hans Werksman