Exhibition

Willie Doherty Replays: Selected video work 1994-2007

23 Jan 2008 – 16 Mar 2008

Matt's Gallery

London
England, United Kingdom

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  • Mile End

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This will be Willie Doherty's fifth exhibition at Matt's Gallery. The gallery has collaborated with the artist since 1990 and was the first venue to show his video work, commissioning the installation The Only Good One is a Dead One in 1993. This led to Doherty's first Turner Prize nomination in 1994.

For Replays, Matt's Gallery will present a survey of Doherty's video work made over the last thirteen years. These works are set against the backdrop of a changing Northern Ireland and engage the viewer in the undercurrent of apprehension and uncertainty of living in a divided society.

The gallery will be divided into two exhibition spaces, with Ghost Story (2007) showing throughout the exhibition in one space and a rotation of eight videos in the other. All works are single channel video installations and will be shown in the following order:

Ghost Story (2007)
screened throughout the exhibition
15 minutes, colour, sound
Ghost Story is located in the landscape of post-conflict Northern Ireland; a place of unsolved murders and unresolved traumas. The camera moves slowly along a country path that is flanked on both sides by trees. This extended shot is accompanied by a voiceover where the narrator recounts his experience and memories of past events and people. As the narrative unfolds the scene switches to a number of other locations but always returns to the path. The narrative evokes memories of the dead and a sense of loss and foreboding, as their presence is made palpable.

Empty (2006)
Wednesday 23 until Sunday 27 January
8 minutes, colour, sound
Empty was shot in a single day on location in Belfast and records the exterior of a disused office building. The surface of the abandoned building is explored revealing its peeling paint, its rusting window grilles and its weathered textures. A low background drone fades in and out of the ambient sounds of wind and rain, the rumble of traffic and the sound of a distant helicopter.

Closure (2005)
Wednesday 30 January until Sunday 3 February
11:20 minutes, colour, sound
Closure shows a young woman dressed in black walking around the perimeter of long and narrow enclosed space that appears to be part of a military or security installation. The camera tracks the woman as she paces the length of the space. The sequence is accompanied by a voiceover that oscillates between references to the destruction of a domestic space to the woman's determination and resolve in the face of apparent adversity.

Passage (2006)
Wednesday 6 until Sunday 10 February
7:52 minutes, colour, sound
Passage is shot at night in the waste ground near a motorway that is audible in the background. Two young men walk towards each other from opposite directions. The sequence is made up of a series cuts that move from one figure to the other. The men appear to be unaware of each other until they reach a point where they meet in a short underpass. As they pass each man looks back over his shoulder at the other and continues to walk. Variations of this first sequence follow as the two figures walk away until they inevitably meet again and again.

Non-specific Threat (2004)
Wednesday 13 until Sunday 17 February
7:46 minutes, colour, sound
Non-Specific Threat consists of a long pan as the camera moves slowly around a young man. As the camera rotates around the young man we are invited to scrutinize the bumps and marks on his shaved head and to read the changing expressions on his face. The sequence is accompanied by a reserved but threatening voiceover that describes a future state of impending doom and fear, while implicating the viewer in an act of mutual recognition.

Sometimes I imagine it's my turn (1998)
Wednesday 20 until Sunday 24 February
3 minutes, colour, sound
Sometimes I Imagine it's my turn starts as the camera pans slowly across a stretch of waste ground and unexpectedly comes upon a figure lying face down on the ground. This shot is quickly followed by a sequence of tracking shots that take us closer and closer to the figure, whose identity is never disclosed. This sequence is interrupted by close-up shots of the undergrowth and by short inserts of hand-held footage of the same scene. The growing sense of unease is further heightened by the intrusion of rapid inserts of television footage, suggesting a link between the subject of the video and actual news coverage. The overall sequence is accompanied by the distant sound of a helicopter and ends abruptly in a flash of white noise, only to repeat again and again.

The Wrong Place (1996)
Wednesday 27 February until Sunday 2 March
10 minutes, colour, sound, single screen installation
The video sequence starts in darkness and in silence that is abruptly ended by the sound of a light switch being turned on and a humming fluorescent light, seen from below, flickers into life. This scene cuts to a point of view shot as the camera moves down a flight of stairs and starts a disorientating and frightening journey through an old dysfunctional and abandoned building. This survey of the interior is suddenly ended by the sound of running footsteps as the camera moves frantically as if trying to escape. The sequence ends back at the top of the stairs where the scene is plunged back into darkness accompanied by the sound of panting and heavy breathing. Suddenly the light flickers on again and the camera starts a similar journey.

No smoke without fire (1994)
Wednesday 5 until Sunday 9 March
10 minutes, colour, sound, single screen installation
No Smoke Without Fire begins abruptly as a hand-held camera moves through an extensive area of waste ground. It is night and the scene is lit only by a lamp attached to the camera, which moves at a slow pace, surveying the ground and hovering above tall grass, bushes, pieces of domestic waste and other discarded objects. This narrow point of view rarely changes and is interrupted only by some sharp edits and when the camera tilts up as it approaches a wire fence. The camera pulls away quickly from the fence and continues to examine the ground, leaving the viewer in a state of uncertainty about whether the action occurs inside or outside of the fenced area.

At the end of the day (1994)
Wednesday 12 until Sunday 16 March
10 minutes, colour, sound, single screen installation
A video camera is mounted in the interior of a car to provide a static shot through the windscreen. The car travels a short journey along a small country road at dusk. The sound of the car is audible as it moves along the uneven and bumpy road. A concrete border roadblock comes into view and when the car reaches this obstruction it stops, illuminating the concrete blocks in the headlights. The car waits at the roadblock until the tension is broken by a male voice that speaks a short phrase. At this point, the sequence cuts back to the start and is repeated each time ending with a different phrase.

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