Unseen is a major exhibition of photographic and video works by Willie Doherty.

Doherty was born in 1959 in Derry, Northern Ireland. His solo exhibitions include the Dallas Museum of Art (2009), Lenbachhaus, Munich (2007), the Renaissance Society, Chicago (1999), and Tate Liverpool (1998). He has participated in the Biennale di Venezia (2007, 2005, 1993) and the Bienal de São Paulo (2002). In 1994 and 2003, Doherty was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. In 2012 he participated in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany.

Robin Klassnik, Director of Matt’s Gallery, London, who has worked with the artist since 1990, curates the exhibition with Pearse Moore, Chief Executive of the Nerve Centre, Derry. Unseen will form a core element of the city’s 2013 Derry-Londonderry City of Culture celebrations.

The exhibition will provide a critical overview of Doherty’s photographs and videos made on the streets of his native city of Derry and its surrounding hinterland, presenting new insight into the artist’s working methods and rationale. 

Since 1985 Doherty has recorded the way in which the city has been shaped and altered in response to unfolding political events as he explored its streets through the simple acts of walking and looking. The title of the exhibition, Unseen, refers to Doherty’s self-conscious method of using the camera in a context where it was imperative for him to avoid undue attention and to minimize the risk of being mistaken for a photojournalist or a tourist. The exhibition will reveal how Doherty has used the techniques of photojournalism, documentary landscape photography and the appropriation of images and texts to create a body of photographic work that explores the fine line between fiction and non-fiction.

Unseen will present approximately twenty photographic and four video works from throughout Doherty’s career and will examine how the artist evolved the use of image and text in his early black and white works (1985–92) to engage with the complexities of representing a contested landscape.

A number of works from Lapse, a series of black and white photographs made in the 1980s and early 1990s will be shown for the first time; Doherty here investigating how these neglected or ‘lost’ images shift between the present (and our knowledge and understanding of) the past.

Doherty’s large colour cibachromes (1993–99), exploit the heightened colour of this particular photographic process to create a body of work that plays with the promise of narrative potential, as the images oscillate unsteadily between the staged and the found, the before and after.

As part of this unique exhibition, Doherty will present a new group of photographs made this year in Derry, providing an opportunity for the artist to reflect on how the city has evolved and how his own working methods and processes continue to address the problem of photographing the contemporary city.

Unseen will showcase a number of Doherty’s most important video installations that place some of Derry’s best-known and more hidden sites as locations for his narratives.

At The End Of The Day (1994) is the earliest video work to be included and highlights Doherty’s interest in the border roads that surround Derry’s west bank and reveals his early use of circular repetition as a formal and metaphorical device within the video works.

The exhibition will include Re-Run (2002) a double screen video projection for which Doherty was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2003.

Ghost Story (2007), which was produced as part of Doherty’s representation of Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 will be shown for the first time in Derry.

Remains (2013), a new video work that Doherty has produced in Derry in 2013 will be included in the exhibition, having debuted at Art Unlimited at Basel 2013. Remains was made in a number of locations in Derry that have been used since the early 1970’s to carry out kneecappings, a form of punishment shooting used to control drug use and other forms of so called ‘anti-social behaviour’.

Unseen will provide a unique opportunity to appraise the photographic and video work of Willie Doherty in the context where it was produced. The work will be subjected to a different scrutiny, one that has been shaped by an understanding of how things have turned out but is subject to the fallibility of human memory and like photography itself, cannot be relied upon to provide a full account of what happened.

Unseen is supported by British Council Northern Ireland, The Culture Company, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Derry City Council, The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Northern Ireland and with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union.

City Factory Gallery
Patrick Street, Dery
Northern Ireland BT4 87EL United Kingdom
Ph. +44 (0)28 71260562

Opening hours
Tuesday - Saturday from 11am to 6pm
Sunday from 1pm to 5pm