Willie Doherty has been a pioneering figure in contemporary art film and photography for four decades. Exploring the relationship between landscape and memory, Doherty responds to mysterious isolated settings that conceal a troubled past. Though his primary geographic reference is Northern Ireland, and especially his native Derry – a city divided along sectarian lines during the ‘Troubles’, Doherty has trained his lens on sites of contested history elsewhere in the world, including Granada, Pennsylvania and the US/Mexico border. Studying these terrains in forensic detail, Doherty’s video and photo works reveal the impossibility of objectivity and historical truth, often using diptychs to set contradictory points of view against each other. His videos unfold slowly, sometimes combining material evidence with haunting fictional monologues that speak of shame, deception, brutality and its aftermath, as if leaking the stories contained within the landscape. Assessing how these sites appear to us now, Doherty uses powerful language and disorientating imagery to reflect on how we approach histories of trauma.
Willie Doherty lives and works in Donegal.
Willie Doherty has exhibited in many of the world’s leading museums, including the CAM Gulbenkian, Lisbon; De Pont Museum, Tilburg; SMK, Copenhagen; Fruitmarket, Edinburgh; Tate, London; Dallas Museum of Art; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Neue Galerie, Kassel; Kunsthalle Bern; Kunstverein München; Kunstverein Hamburg and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. Recent solo exhibitions include Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Modena, Italy (2020) travelling to Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2021); a billboard project in conjunction with Void, Derry (2021); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2017) and Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2016). Doherty was nominated twice for the Turner Prize and has participated in major international exhibitions including Documenta, Manifesta, the Carnegie International, FRONT International Cleveland Triennial and the Venice, São Paulo and Istanbul biennales.