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Willie Doherty Retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

A major mid-career retrospective of the work of the internationally-acclaimed, Derry-born artist Willie Doherty opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 31 October 2002. 'Willie Doherty: False Memory' is the first substantial showing of Doherty’s work in Ireland and one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of his work anywhere to date.

The exhibition, which comprises more than 40 photographic works and slide/tape and video installations, explores themes of memory and place - concerns which have preoccupied the artist throughout his career. Closely keyed to his native city of Derry and the Northern Ireland “Troubles”, Doherty’s work reveals a complex and shifting range of relationships between places, events and the images by which they come to be represented and recalled.

Much of the work is open ended, forcing the viewer to move beyond the surface picture to explore the fallibility of human memory and our need to engage with the stories and images that make up our experience. '30th January 1972' (1993), for example, comprises two projections – one showing news footage of a crowd scene on Bloody Sunday, the other a view of Glenfada Park (scene of fatal Bloody Sunday shootings) as it looked in August 1993. These projections are accompanied by three audio tracks – one recorded during the shooting on Bloody Sunday, the other two being edited extracts from interviews with passersby on Rossville Street (another location of the fatal shootings) in August 1993. The central point is that the work is not intended to be a contribution to the body of documentary evidence on Bloody Sunday, but rather an attempt to investigate the impact of such a traumatic event on private and public memory and identity.

'Willie Doherty: False Memory' presents many such key works from all stages of the artist’s career. These include early black and white photographs, such as 'Mesh' (1986) and 'The Blue Skies of Ulster' (1986), and large colour cibachrome photographs, such as 'Unapproved Road I' (1992) and 'Out of Sight' (1997), which exist on the borderline between the documentary and the staged. In these works Doherty places us at the edge of the city, between the familiar and the unknown – a highly mediated place, shaped from a combination of television news coverage, cinematic fantasy, tourist information, popular stereotypes and collective memory. The seminal slide installations 'Same Difference' (1990) and 'They’re All the Same' (1991) question how language can shape our perceptions of images, in this instance media images of IRA suspects. Doherty’s most recent video installation, 'Re-Run' (2002), commissioned by the British Council for this year’s 25th São Paolo Bienal, is here shown for the first time in Ireland.

Commenting on the exhibition, Brenda McParland, Head of Exhibitions at IMMA, said: “Much of Doherty’s artistic output is closely linked to the physical and political landscape of the city of Derry and its environs. However, there is a measure of detachment in his work that resonates beyond Ireland, giving it universal appeal and international significance”.

Born in Derry in 1959, Willie Doherty is an artist of international standing. In 1993 he (and Dorothy Cross) represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1994 and was the recipient of the IMMA Glen Dimplex Artists Award the following year. Earlier this year he represented the United Kingdom at the São Paulo Bienal. He has exhibited in a number of solo exhibitions in Derry, Dublin, London, New York and Paris and has contributed to group shows worldwide.

The following talks have been organised to coincide with the exhibition.
Gallery Talk: Thursday 7 November at 11.00am
Willie Doherty: False Memory
Critic, curator, lecturer and contributing writer to the accompanying catalogue, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, discusses the exhibition.
Gallery Talk: Sunday 17 November at 3.00pm
Willie Doherty: False Memory Brenda McParland, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, presents an introductory tour of the exhibition.
Lecture: Tuesday 3 December at 8.00pm
The Winter Lecture
The 2002 Winter Lecture is presented by Willie Doherty.
A major full-colour monograph, published by IMMA and Merrell publishers, London, with essays by the chief curator of the Castello di Rivoli, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and writer and critic, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, accompanies the exhibition (price €35.00).
The exhibition is curated by Brenda McParland, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.
The exhibition is supported by the British Council.
The exhibition continues until 2 March 2003.

Admission is free.
Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10.00am - 5.30pm
Sun, Bank Holidays, 27, 28, 31 Dec and 1 Jan 12 noon – 5.30pm

Mondays and 24 - 26, 30 Dec Closed

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999, Email :

10 October 2002


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