The Amnesiac

Willie Doherty (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


The Amnesiac, 2014, a single channel video installation, and related photographic works expand upon Doherty’s existing research exploring how specific landscapes and locations may trigger memories of unresolved trauma, as if some residual material from the past remains embedded within the landscape itself. In a context of post-conflict resolution, where a society is asked to willfully forget the events of the past in order to construct the future, Doherty’s research examines the moral ambiguity that can arise as a consequence of such forgetting. The research attempts to engage with some of the problematic consequences and the ongoing psychological impact of such collective amnesia. For victims and survivors there are unguarded moments when a casual word or a glimpse of a place name on a road sign have the power to transport them back to the very thing that they can never forget, the place of trauma, the scene that cannot be forgotten.
The Amnesiac contains echoes of early video works, such as Re-Run, 2002, Non-Specific Threat, 2004 and Passage, 2006, where Doherty uses the device of a repeated loop to suggest that the protagonist is caught or trapped within an endless cycle of repetition. The two photographic series Damage and Future Fear further explore connections with Doherty’s early photoworks and documentary practices while opening up ambiguous overlaps with the fictional narrative of The Amnesiac. While the research is rooted in Doherty’s rigorous body of work produced in response to the Northern Irish conflict, it was produced for and initially exhibited in Madrid and draws a comparison with post-Franco Spain and the flawed political decision to adopt the policy of ‘El Pacto del Olvido’ (The Pact of Forgetting) in an attempt to eradicate the past and concentrate on the future and constructing national reconciliation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMadrid, Spain
PublisherGaleria Moises Perez de Albeniz
Media of outputFilm
SizeHD Video installation; 5.1 Surround sound, 10 minutes
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 May 2014
EventWillie Doherty – El Amnésico (The Amnesiac) - Galería Moisés Pérez de Albéniz, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 24 May 201425 Jul 2014


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