False Memory is the first substantial showing of Willie Doherty’s work in Ireland and one of the largest exhibitions of his work anywhere to date. Exploring themes of memory and place, it highlights concerns which have preoccupied Doherty throughout his career and which he has returned to again and again. Much of Doherty’s artistic output has emanated from and is closely keyed to his native city of Derry. It reveals a complex and shifting range of correspondences, both real and imagined, between place and memory. The slippages or gaps between places and events and the images by which they come to be recalled and represented make up the raw material for all of Doherty’s art. They provide him with those spaces to manoeuvre, which have been central to his extensive body of photographic and video works.
The exhibition presents key examples of Doherty’s early black and white photographs, such as ‘Mesh’ and ‘The Blue Skies of Ulster’, and his large colour cibachrome photographs, such as ‘Unapproved Road I’ and ‘Out of Sight’, 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 exhibition also includes the seminal slide installations Same Difference and They’re All the Same, both of which question, through the juxtaposition of the verbal with the pictorial, how language can shape our perceptions of images, in this instance media images of IRA suspects. Doherty’s most recent video installation, Re-Run, commissioned by the British Council for this year’s 25th São Paolo Biennale, is being shown for the first time in Ireland.
A major full-colour catalogue, published by IMMA and Merrell publishers, 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).
The exhibition is supported by the British Council.
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