Doherty's work is rooted in the political and geographical landscape of his native Northern Ireland. It expands out of this context to address universally significant themes of individual and collective subjectivity and responsibility, creating a persistently significant framework within which to think about who we are, and where and how we live.
A major exhibition of films and photographs by Willie Doherty, one of the most
significant artists of our times. Rooted in the political and geographical landscape
of his native Northern Ireland, Doherty’s work expands out of this context to
address universal themes of individual and collective subjectivity and
responsibility, creating a new framework within which to think about who we are and
how we live.
This exhibition brings together a selection of new and existing films and photographs, and includes a new film, Buried, made specially for the exhibition. The new film was made and is shown in the context of Ghost Story, first shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Both of the works deal with memory, its repression and return, but while Ghost Story is narrated by a male voice piecing together a story of remembered horror, Buried relies on ambient sound to animate its dark, almost gothic woodland imagery. The films influence each other, the recounted memories, dreams and premonitions of Ghost Story seeping into Buried.
Also in the exhibition is Re-Run (2002), a double-screen projection showing a man on a bridge simultaneously running towards and away from the viewer. The film was shot on the Craigavon Bridge over the River Foyle, which literally and symbolically divides the Catholic and Protestant communities in Derry. It is shown together with a new series of photographs taken in Belfast, in which images taken now are joined by several taken in 1988 but never previously shown. The artist’s return to his own history has a resonance with the imagery of remembering and forgetting that motivates Ghost Story, Buried and much of his work.
Fiona Bradley, Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery
Willie Doherty makes hauntingly beautiful and extremely powerful work. Pertinent and political, it takes its cue from the events which shape contemporary life, while providing a way for us to make sense of them. We are especially pleased that the artist has agreed to make a new film for this exhibition, and look forward to the resonances it will set up both within his work and with the concerns and experiences of our audience.
Image: Buried, 2009. Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by The Fruitmarket Gallery with support from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
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