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Acclaimed film work by Willie Doherty at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

A haunting film work by leading Derry-born artist Willie Doherty opens to the public in the Annex at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s temporary off-site exhibition spaces in Earlsfort Terrace on Tuesday 21 May 2013. Secretion, 2012, first shown to critical acclaim at dOCUMENTA 13, draws on the possibilities of lost and forgotten narratives located somewhere between recent history and a near future. Shot on location in and around Kassel, Germany, the powerful narrative at times presents echoes of Doherty’s earlier work Ghost Story, 2007, pulling personal histories and experience to the foreground of the Kassel landscape. This same landscape served as the backdrop for much of the folklore collected by the Brothers Grimm while they lived and worked in Kassel.

Doherty is interested in the relationship between landscape and memory and in working in locations with untold stories; some forgotten, some half remembered. Many of his works involve looking at specific places, as a means of meditating upon the existence of traces of past events that will not disappear, that resurface and cannot be forgotten. Secretion builds on the possibility of suppressed or hidden stories being embedded within contemporary experience and knowledge. His approach and process is speculative. He often takes an existing image, or other information, as a starting point and then proceeds to see what can be discovered or found. At the same time, Doherty’s method is sensitive to the difficulties of working in a contemporary landscape that has been shaped by monumental historical events. To this extent Secretion is informed by his experience of making work that responds to the complexities of the political conflict in Ireland.

Doherty, referring to the film Secretion, has stated; “Obviously, my response cannot be emptied of what I already know or imagine about the German landscape and the traditions of its representation however the intention is not to impose a preconceived reading onto the landscape but to respond to what I might find there.” Secretion is about the present rather than the past. The work attempts to engage with the landscape as it looks today but also as a repository of the memories of past experiences and our apprehension about the future.

Born in Derry in 1959, Willie Doherty began exhibiting internationally in the early 1980s. Nominated twice for the Turner Prize (2003, 1994), his work has been the subject of many solo museum shows. In 2002 IMMA presented, False Memory, the first major solo exhibition of Doherty’s work in Ireland. Other solo exhibitions include, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (2011); The Speed Art Museum, Kentucky (2011); Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2009); Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2009); Lenbachhaus, München (2007); Kunstverein, Hamburg (2007); Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City (2006); Renaissance Society, Chicago (1999) and Tate Gallery, Liverpool (1999). Group shows include Manifesta 8 (2010), 3rd Auckland Triennial (2007), Venice Biennale 2007, 2005 and 1993, Reprocessing Reality, MOMA PS.1, New York (2006), Istanbul Biennale (2003) and the Carnegie International (1999). Doherty’s forthcoming exhibition, UNSEEN, will present a survey of photographic and video works as part of Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

The exhibition is curated by Rachael Thomas, Senior Curator: Head of Exhibitions, IMMA, assisted by Séamus McCormack, Exhibitions, IMMA.
Talks and Events Programme

Artist Talk + Conversation | Willie Doherty
Thursday 20 June, 5.30pm

Lecture Room, IMMA @ NCH
Willie Doherty presents a talk on the conception and making of his film Secretion. This is followed by a chaired discussion with Declan Long (Lecturer, Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD) exploring how the artist utilises inherent qualities of film to reveal hidden histories and perceptions of a place and site.

Discussion | Turner Prize 2013
In the context of showing Secretion by Willie Doherty, twice nominee for the Turner Prize, this year hosted in Derry (Capital of Culture, 2013); prize judge Declan Long and others discuss the history and cultural context surrounding this coveted art prize, and examine its significance in generating public and media interest in developments in contemporary art. This event is in collaboration with MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD.

Booking is essential for talks and lectures. Free tickets are available online at

The exhibition continues until 1 September 2013.

Admission is free.
Opening hours:
Tuesday: 10.00am – 5.30pm
Wednesday: 10.30am – 5.30pm
Thursday: 10.00am – 7.00pm
Friday and Saturday: 10.00am – 5.30pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays: 12noon – 5.30pm
Monday: Closed

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353 1 612 9900, Email: [email protected] 

1 May 2013

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.