Willie Doherty, WHERE / DOVE

9 February - 16 May 2021

Fondazione Modena Arti Visive - Palazzina dei Giardini

Willie Doherty

Where / Dove, 2020 (video still), two screen installation, colour, stereo sound, duration 15 minutes.
Fondazione Modena Arti Visive presents Where / Dove, the first solo show featuring Northern Irish artist Willie Doherty (Derry, 1959) at an Italian institution, scheduled at the Palazzina dei Giardini.
The exhibition, curated by Daniele De Luigi and Anne Stewart, is co-produced by FMAV and National Museums Northern Ireland, which will host it from June 2021 at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. Produced with support from the British Council, as part of the “Being Present” UK/Italy Season 2020, it gives an overview of Doherty’s career in photography and time-based media. Focusing on the topic of borders, the exhibition spans works from the 1990s to the present, and features a new video installation commissioned for the occasion.
Willie Doherty has established a major international reputation for his work in photography and time-based media arising from his experience of the Troubles in his native Derry. Situated at the western edge of Europe, on the border between the UK and Ireland, Derry is a place where the complexities of history and politics have shaped the physical and psychological experience of the landscape. It is with immense subtlety that Doherty addresses subjects which touch on the legacy of colonialism, conflict and the fault-lines, both real and perceived, that divide individuals and communities. His use of landscape to evoke a sense of instability and uncertainty through a complex layering of associations is one of the most powerful aspects of his practice. He uses this artistic motif to examine the persistence of individual and collective trauma and its repercussions on the present. More recently, the artist has extended his gaze to other contested geographical areas, such as the border between the United States and Mexico where the systematic erection of a border wall creates the illusion of control while the false certainties of security and strength are instrumentalized and reinforced.
Although central to Doherty’s practice, this is the first time the theme of borders – both tangible and imagined – has been addressed in a dedicated exhibition. Revealing the numerous complex political, social and psychological implications, his work challenges the viewer to re-consider the value and meaning of these fault-lines. And it is no coincidence that all of this comes at a point in history when this topic has become pressing not only in Ireland and the United Kingdom as the last one leaves the European Union, but also at global level, in this era of migrations and pandemics.
The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue Willie Doherty. Where / Dove edited by Daniele De Luigi and Anne Stewart (Franco Cosimo Panini Editore, Italian and English, 25 euros), with texts by the curators and art critic Declan Long.
Willie Doherty will be visiting professor at the FMAV - School of Advanced Studies for its Master’s in Contemporary Images. Designed to train young artists, the course gives its budding talents the extraordinary opportunity to come face to face with the great Italian and international artists featured in the FMAV exhibition programme. During the course, the artists will personally accompany the students as they look for and try out new approaches, languages and projects (scuola.fmav.org).
Willie Doherty has held numerous solo exhibitions in some of the most prestigious international institutions, including the Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Neue Galerie, Museumslandschaft Hessen, Kassel; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Dallas Museum of Art; De Appel, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, Liverpool; Kunsthalle Bern; Kunstverein, Munich; Kunstverein, Hamburg; and Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. In 2007, he was selected by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council to represent Northern Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale. He has twice been a Turner Prize nominee and has taken part in other important international exhibitions, amongst which Documenta, Manifesta and the biennales of São Paulo and Istanbul. His most recent group exhibitions include: The Otherside, Borderlands in Contemporary Irish Art, Dortmunder U, Dortmund; Walking through Walls, Berliner Festspiele, Gropius BAU, Berlin (2020); How the Light Gets In, Johnson Museum of Art, New York; Shaping Ireland: Landscapes In Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; and Political: Language Is Not Innocent, Kunstverein Hamburg (2019). His works is represented in the Fondazione Modena Arti Visive and the Ulster Museum collections, as well as in numerous others, including those of the British Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Fundació “La Caixa”, Barcelona; European Commission/Parliament, Brussels; Imperial War Museum, London; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Britain, London; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
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