Ancient ground, 2011, Video Installation, Colour, Sound, Duration 8:00 min, 35mm film transferred to High-Definition video.

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‘Ancient Ground’ extends Doherty’s concerns with territory and surveillance. The film was shot in a peat bog in County Donegal. The bog is a liminal place where land and water meet and the ground shifts between solid and liquid. The research was underpinned by recent studies in Archaeology such as Bog Bodies: Representing The Dead, Melanie Giles, University of Manchester, 2006 and the poetry of Seamus Heaney which uses the bog as a metaphor for the Irish psyche. Doherty explores and tests how video, as a dominant contemporary medium, can be used to make connections with historical representations of the Irish landscape, such as Turf Bog Scene by Paul Henry (1876-1958). ‘Ancient Ground’ seeks to make connections between the deliberate disposal of bodies in bogs that has been practised in Northern Europe for more than two thousand years and the disposal of victims of violence during the recent conflict in Northern Ireland. In this respect ‘Ancient Ground’ can be located within Doherty’s existing body of work such as Ghost Story, 2007 and Buried, 2009. Throughout ‘Ancient Ground’ the camera focuses upon barely visible traces of human presence and intervention within the terrain of the bog. Evidence of disturbance is captured with forensic attention to detail while Doherty uses the voice of an elderly woman to locate the work within the context of the recent past. Doherty asserts that the complexities of place, identity and memory can be present in both image and text and he makes use of destabilizing shifts between now and then, the real and imagined and the visible and invisible to insist that what has been experienced cannot be forgotten and cannot disappear. ‘Ancient Ground’ was first exhibited as part of the one-person exhibition Willie Doherty, Disturbance, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane from 5/9/11 until 15/1/12.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAlexander and Bonin, 132 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10011, USA
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2011

Bibliographical note

Outputmediatype: HDCAM Videotape/Blu-Ray Disc


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