WILLIE DOHERTY - "UNSEEN" - DePont Museum, Tilburg

Willie Doherty (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


The exhibition provided a critical overview of Willie Doherty’s photographs and videos made on the streets of his native city of Derry in Northern Ireland and its surrounding hinterland, and presented new insights 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, referred 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 non-fiction.

UNSEEN presented approximately twenty photographic and four video works from throughout Doherty’s career and examined how the artist evolved the use of image and text in his early black and white works (1985-92) to engage with the complexities of representing a contested landscape.

A number of works from Lapse, a series of black and white photographs made in the 1980s and early 1990s were 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.

UNSEEN showcased a number of Doherty’s most important video installations that placed some of Derry’s best-known and more hidden sites as locations for his narratives. One of the works Remains (2013), was acquired by De Pont, after having debuted at Art Unlimited at Basel 2013. Remains was 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’.

UNSEEN provided a unique opportunity to appraise the photographic and video work of Willie Doherty in the context where it was produced. The work will 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.

The exhibition was accompanied by a 250 pp publication, with full colour and duotone photographs that for the first time illustrated all of the photographic works that Willie Doherty has made in Derry between 1985 and 2013.

The exhibition Willie Doherty: UNSEEN was curated by Matt’s Gallery, London and The Nerve Centre, Derry. For the show in Tilburg new works have been added.

The works are :

Remains, 2013, video installation
Buried, 2009, video installation
Ghost Story, 2007, video installation
Passage, 2006, video installation
Non-Specific Threat, 2004, video installation
Sometimes I Imagine It’s My Turn, 1998, video installation
Re-Run, 2002, video installation
Selection of photographic works from 1985-2013
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg, Netherlands
PublisherDePont Museum
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2014
EventWillie Doherty, UNSEEN, DePont Museum, Tilburg - DePont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sep 201418 Jan 2015

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