Passages: Solo Exhibition

Willie Doherty (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

Abstract

Exhibition at Prefix Photo , Toronto, Canada of the video installation Buried (2009) and other photographic works.

Buried explores themes of personal and collective memory, repression and loss while maintaining his characteristic concern for specificity of place. The
exhibition also includes a selection of large, colour photographs that contrast the bucolic landscapes of Northern Ireland with a dark uneasiness, manifested through a series of roadblocks, barriers and traces of past violence.

Opening with an expansive, peaceful scene of a lakeside clearing, Buried depicts what appears at first glance to be an entirely natural, unspoiled setting. As the camera moves forward along a wooded path, remnants from past human activities are gradually revealed: a rope, latex gloves, a piece of fabric, wire tied
to a tree. Each item becomes a tiny trace of some unknown, unknowable episode. Eventually the viewer is completely immersed in a dense, dark woodland, peering through a thick web of branches upon the glowing embers of a fire. With no explicit textual information to provide an explanation of events, it is the
unknowable yet physically present narrative of the past, its sense of menace heightened by the inclusion of non-diegetic sounds, that provides the work with a chilling, unsettled atmosphere.

Created prior to Buried, the photographs in the exhibition demonstrate Doherty’s ongoing interest in nearly abstracting the traces of human presence in the landscape and provide an engaging complement to his most recent video installation. In Buried, the viewer only has access to fleeting glimpses of the traces of a traumatic past, traces that still mark the landscape. In the earlier photographs, those traces are writ large, to the extent that their mystery and sense of foreboding stem as much from the barely discernable objects
depicted as from the works’ compelling titles and insistent contrasts of light and dark. Taken together, both the video installation and the photographs speak to the political history of Northern Ireland and its legacy of violence, a legacy that permeates both the landscape and the collective memory of its people.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationToronto
PublisherPrefix Photo
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventWillie Doherty : Passages - Prefix Photo, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 24 Sep 200928 Nov 2009

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