Saturday 08 July 2017 to Sunday 06 August 2017
Art Sonje Center

‘History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake’

- James Joyce, Ulysses (1918)

Willie Doherty, one of Northern Ireland’s most celebrated artists, will have his first solo show in Korea from 8 July to 6 August.

Doherty is a native of Derry, Northern Ireland, and has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize. Basing much of his work around Derry, he uses photography, video and sound installations to explore the fallibility of human memory and recollection.

Charlotte Higgins, chief arts writer of the Guardian, said: "The artist does not tackle the Troubles directly, as a documentary maker would, but aslant, like a poet, making noirish films or photographs of the city's hinterland, sometime accompanied by text, that seem to vibrate with dread."

There will also be an artist's talk and film screening on the first day of exhibition, Friday 7 July. 

2017 Art Sonje Project #3: Willie Doherty – Remains

Artist's Talk and Film Screening

  • Date: 15.30 – 18.00 Friday 7 July 2017
  • Venue: Level B1 Art Hall, Art Sonje Center 
  • Programme:
15.30 – 16.30 Film screening
16.30 – 17.30 Artist's talk
17.30 – 18.00 Q&A
  • Pre-booking is necessary. 
  • Consecutive interpretation will be provided.
  • The screening compilation includes:
    Ghost Story, 2007, duration: 15 minutes
    Buried, 2009, duration: 8 minutes
    The Amnesiac, 2014, duration: 10 minutes
    Secretion, 2013, duration: 20 minutes 

Willie Doherty

Since the 1980s, Willie Doherty has been a pioneering figure in contemporary art film and photography. At once highly seductive and visually disorientating, Doherty's artworks tend to begin as responses to specific terrains (most often mysterious isolated settings; places, we suspect, with a troubled past) and evolve as complex reflections on how we look at such locations – or on what stories might be told about their hidden histories.

The primary point of geographical reference for Doherty during the three decades of his remarkable career has been his native city of Derry – a city famously defined and demarcated according to the traumatic divisions of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'. From early conceptual photo-text works –focusing on the impossibility of establishing any 'objective' perspective on this territory of sectarian segregation and military surveillance – to diptych and serial works in film and photography that set contradictory points of view against each other, Doherty has returned again and again to Derry as source and subject, revisiting and re-viewing familiar places from alternative positions.

Over the past decade, Doherty has offered lingering, anxious views of post-conflict settings in Northern Ireland, asking us to wonder, as the narrator of his 2007 film Ghost Story proposes, "about what had happened to the pain and terror that had taken place there."

Remains is situated in the landscape and streets of Derry, Northern Ireland where an uneasy peace is often disrupted by incidents of violence that seem like inexplicable remnants from the past.

Against this backdrop, the camera moves through the streets of the town and its surrounding landscape in a sequence of long tracking shots accompanied by a voiceover. Through the narration the tempo of the work shifts from a study of normality to a series of interruptions where the everyday is pierced by the intrusion of incidents of threat and violence. The work speculates on the origins of the specific incidents that we encounter and concludes with a dramatic sequence of a burning car abandoned within the landscape. An image remembered from the past that erupts in the present with the quality of a vivid hallucination.

Recent works have also attended to alternative locations, or proposed less specific points of reference (an important 2005 film, shown in the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale, was tellingly entitled Non-Specific Threat). Secretion (2012), a film commissioned for Documenta 13 in Kassel, for instance, was developed as a disturbing fictional response to the industrialised landscape of central Germany, obliquely addressing the effects of a traumatic past on the landscapes of the living present. The concerns and characteristics of Secretion are consistent with those of Doherty's career to date, but they demonstrate further ways in which the forensic gaze of his art might be newly applied.

Willie Doherty has exhibited in many of the world's leading museums, including the CAM Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Museum De Pont, Tilburg; IMMA, Dublin; SMK, Copenhagen; Fruitmarket, Edinburgh; TATE, London; Modern Art Oxford; Dallas Museum of Art; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Neue Galerie, Kassel; Kunsthalle Bern; Kunstverein München; KunstvereinHamburg and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. He was nominated twice for the Turner Prize and has participated in major international exhibitions including Documenta, Manifesta, the Carnegie International, and the Venice, São Paulo and Istanbul biennales.


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Visual Arts, Film, City to City
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UK/Korea 2017-18