Willie Doherty (born 1959, Derry/Londonderry) is Northern Ireland’s leading contemporary artist. Since the 1980s, he has established an international reputation with his practice in photography and video. Nominated for the Turner Prize in both 1994 and 2003, he represented the United Kingdom at the Săo Paulo Biennale in 2002. He has shown a series of works at the Venice Biennale, representing Ireland in 1993 and Northern Ireland in 2007. WHERE offers an overview of Doherty’s career and explores his interest in borders, both real and imagined, a subject that has dominated his work for over four decades. From early in his career Doherty has responded to his native city of Derry/ Londonderry, its hinterland and his experience of the Troubles. More recently, Doherty has revisited the borderlands near Derry and made a new work Where/Dove, commissioned for this exhibition and now in the Ulster Museum collection.
The Troubles were a catalyst for Doherty’s early practice as he worked to create a visual language to reflect the weight and meaning of his experiences. Central to Doherty’s practice is a dualism characterised by his use of apparent ambiguity. Throughout his career, he has dealt with the uneasy relationship between image and text. What we see and read is not always what we comprehend and believe. This disconnect reinforces a tension that is inherent to Doherty’s practice. Doherty’s work explores areas where our perceptions are conflicted and sometimes difficult to confront and in so doing he challenges us to reconsider ideas and images that may be unnerving and contradictory. WHERE is arranged in four interconnecting galleries showing photographic and video work in close proximity, allowing both layering of experience and a more complete engagement with Doherty’s practice.
WILLIE DOHERTY WHERE was curated by Anne Stewart, National Museums NI and Daniele De Luigi, Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Italy and supported by the British Council UK/ITALY 2020 Season ‘Being Present’. Presented in collaboration with Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Alexander and Bonin, New York with the support of the lenders and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich. English/Italian catalogue by Anne Stewart, Daniele De Luigi and Declan Long.