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False Memory
Willie Doherty

Essays by Castello di RivoliCarolyn Christov-BakargievCaoimhín Mac Giolla Léith


160 pages
282 x 239 mm
ISBN 9781858941790

‘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.

About the Artist

Willie Doherty has been a pioneering figure in contemporary art film and photography for four decades. Exploring the relationship between landscape and memory, Doherty responds to mysterious isolated settings that conceal a troubled past. Though his primary geographic reference is Northern Ireland, and especially his native Derry – a city divided along sectarian lines during the ‘Troubles’, Doherty has trained his lens on sites of contested history elsewhere in the world, including Granada, Pennsylvania and the US/Mexico border. Studying these terrains in forensic detail, Doherty’s video and photo works reveal the impossibility of objectivity and historical truth, often using diptychs to set contradictory points of view against each other. His videos unfold slowly, sometimes combining material evidence with haunting fictional monologues that speak of shame, deception, brutality and its aftermath, as if leaking the stories contained within the landscape. Assessing how these sites appear to us now, Doherty uses powerful language and disorientating imagery to reflect on how we approach histories of trauma.

Willie Doherty lives and works in Donegal.



About the Publisher

Merrell Publishers specializes in award-winning books on art, design, photography, architecture, fashion, gardens and interiors. Merrell collaborates with authors, photographers, museums, galleries, foundations, private collectors, brands and companies around the world. They pay particular attention to the quality of editing, design and production, and we pride themselves on publishing only a carefully selected number of new titles each year.2

IMMA is Ireland’s National Cultural Institution for Modern and Contemporary Art. Our diverse and ambitious programme comprises exhibitions, commissions and projects by leading Irish and international artists, as well as a rich engagement and learning programme which together provides audiences of all ages the opportunity to connect with contemporary art and unlock their creativity.

External links & References

  1. “Willie Doherty” Kerlin Gallery;tab-1:slideshow
  2. “Title of page” Name of the Website