During the Irish Exhibition of Living Art at the Project Arts Centre in 1972, Brian O’Doherty, in a performance before 30 invited witnesses and assisted by artists Robert Ballagh and Brian King, undertook to sign his artworks Patrick Ireland ‘until such time as the British military presence is removed from Northern Ireland and all citizens are granted their civil rights’. That commitment, often seen as controversial, was described by O’Doherty as ‘an expatriate’s gesture in response to Bloody Sunday in Derry’.
After 36 years of making art as Patrick Ireland, O’Doherty reclaimed his birth name with the symbolic burial of his alter ego in the grounds of IMMA on the afternoon of Tuesday 20 May 2008. The burial was a gesture of reconciliation to celebrate the restoration of peace in Northern Ireland. ‘We are burying hate’, stated O’Doherty, ‘it’s not often you get the chance to do that’.