Artist biography

Irish photographer, video artist and installation artist. He studied Fine Art at Ulster Polytechnic (1978–81). Influenced by the work of Hamish Fulton, Barbara Kruger, Richard Long and Jenny Holzer, Doherty's work in the late 1980s often combined black-and-white topographical images overlaid with words and phrases or juxtaposed with texts. These first demonstrated his interest in the ambiguous and contradictory meanings that images can suggest; this has been fed by his sustained engagement with the political conflicts in Northern Ireland and focused by a specific interest in his home town of Derry. The diptych Stone Upon Stone (1986) suggested a politicised parody of land art in its depiction of a river in Derry which divided opposing sides. Against the background of increasing controversy over media coverage of the troubles in the late 1980s, Doherty began to use images from television and newspapers, and in the early 1990s he began to use video, slide projections and sound. The slide installation Same Difference (1992) is typical in employing the face of a woman re-photographed from a TV news broadcast along with projected words. His later work carried suggestions of detective narratives, film noir movies and surveillance into collision with landscape imagery. In the video installation The Only Good One is a Dead One (1993; Dublin, Irish MOMA), for which Doherty was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994, an actor's voice shifts the viewer from the position of assassin and target while the camera looks out from a car.

Willie Doherty (exh. cat., essay D. Cameron, Dublin, Trinity Coll., Hyde Gal.; New York, Grey Gal. & Stud. Cent.; London, Matt's Gal.; 1993)
Willie Doherty: Same Old Story (exh. cat., essays M. McLoone and J. Kastner, London, Matt's Gal.; Londonderry, Orchard Gal.; Colchester, Minories; 1997)
Willie Doherty: Somewhere Else (exh. cat., essay I. Hunt, Liverpool, Tate, 1998)
Willie Doherty: Dark Stains (exh. cat., essays M. Lorés and M. McLoone, San Sebastián, Koldo Mitxelena, 1999)

10 December 2000

Article provided by Grove Art Online