Void is delighted to present THE STATE WE’RE IN by Willie Doherty as part of the Billboard Project. Doherty is a leading figure both nationally and internationally in contemporary photography and film. His work is often situated in locations in and around Derry, exploring the complexity of landscape, memory, and identity. Doherty’s use of text for the Billboard Project not only references his early conceptual photo-text works, where photographs were layered with texts but also plays on how texts or slogans are used to demarcate different areas of the city. How we locate ourselves, the duplicity of identity and the mirroring of difference are subjects that permeate Doherty’s work.
In this text-based piece Doherty alludes to Derry colloquialisms in both a humorous and questioning way; THE STATE WE’RE IN; THE STATE OF US; THE STATE WE’RE IN. The repetition or mirroring of the line THE STATE WE’RE IN both in green (emblematic of Nationalism) and blue (a colour associated with Unionism) addresses both sides in the year of the centenary of partition, a period of reflection on both the past and the future. These are complex times; , we are in the throes of a global pandemic, the economic impact of Brexit, and the issue of climate change resonate in the line THE STATE OF US. These evocations reflect the nuanced relations of the city and the times we live in. Doherty’s work is imbued with an innate knowledge of the history of the region and an awareness of global and political shifts. His attentiveness to the subtleties and importance of language in shaping representations of the city denotes his deep insight into the constantly shifting landscape.
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; Kunstverein Hamburg 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.
Recent exhibitions include Where / Dove, currently on display at Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland, in collaboration with Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Modena, Italy (2020); ENDLESS, Kerlin Gallery, Online Viewing Room (2020); Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (2019); An American City, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (2018); Truth: 24 frames per second, Dallas Museum of Art (2017); Remains, Art Sonje, Seoul (2017); Remains, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2016); Again and Again, CAM – Fundação Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2015) and UNSEEN, Museum De Pont, Tilburg (2014) and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012).
Image: Shifting Ground, 1991, black and white photograph with text, 122 x183 cm. Courtesy of the artist.