Exhibition at City Factory Gallery, Derry of Unseen, of photographic and video works by Willie Doherty.
The exhibition provided a critical overview of Doherty’s photographs and videos made on the streets of his native city of Derry and its surrounding hinterland and presented new insight into the artist’s working methods and rationale.
Since 1985 Doherty has recorded the way in which the city has been shaped and altered in response to unfolding political events as he explored its streets through the simple acts of walking and looking.
The title of the exhibition, Unseen, refers to Doherty’s self-conscious method of using the camera in a context where it was imperative for him to avoid undue attention and to minimize the risk of being mistaken for a photojournalist or a tourist.
The exhibition revealed how Doherty has used the techniques of photojournalism, documentary landscape photography and the appropriation of images and texts to create a body of photographic work that explores the fine line between fiction and nonfiction.
Unseen provided a unique opportunity to appraise the photographic and video work of Willie Doherty within the context it was produced. The work would have been subjected to a different scrutiny, one that has been shaped by an understanding of how things have turned out but is subject to the fallibility of
human memory and like photography itself, cannot be relied upon to provide a
full account of what happened.
Approximately twenty photographic and four video works from throughout Doherty’s career were presented.
Showcased were a number of Doherty’s most important video installations :
At The End Of The Day (1994) is the earliest video work to be included and highlights Doherty’s interest in the border roads that surround Derry’s west bank and reveals his early use of circular repetition as a formal and metaphorical device within the video works.
Re-Run (2002) a double screen video projection for which Doherty was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2003.
Ghost Story (2007), which was produced as part of Doherty’s representation of Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 will be shown for the first time in Derry.
Remains (2013), a new work that Doherty produced in Derry in 2013 was included in the exhibition, having debuted at Art Unlimited at Basel 2013.Remainswas made in a number of locations in Derry that have been used since the early 1970’s to carry out kneecappings, a form of punishment shooting used to control drug use and other forms of so called ‘anti-social behaviour’.
A Selection of photographic works from 1985-2013 included :
A number of works from Lapse, a series of black and white photographs made in the 1980s and early 1990s was shown for the first time; Doherty here investigating how these neglected or 'lost' images shift between the present (and our knowledge and understanding of) the past.
Doherty’s large colour cibachromes (1993-99), exploit the heightened colour of this particular photographic process to create a body of work that plays with the promise of narrative potential, as the images oscillate unsteadily between the staged and the found, the before and after