Northern Ireland artist and Turner Prize nominee Willie Doherty will present a major solo exhibition as part of the British Council’s UK/Italy Season, running from 7 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 at FMAV - Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Italy.
The exhibition, curated by Daniele De Luigi and Anne Stewart, is co-produced by FMAV and Ulster Museum, Belfast, where it will be held from 5 March to 6 June 2021. Titled WHERE / DOVE, it presents an overview of Doherty’s career from the 1980s to the present and focuses on the theme of borders, both tangible and imagined. It addresses subjects which touch on the legacy of colonialism, conflict and the fault-lines that divide individuals and communities.
Doherty is recognised internationally for his work in photography, film and video, inspired by his experiences of the Troubles in his native Derry/Londonderry. His use of landscape to evoke a sense of instability and uncertainty, through a complex layering of associations, is one of the most powerful aspects of his practice. He uses this artistic motif to examine the persistence of individual and collective trauma and its repercussions on the present.
Doherty’s work has featured in some of the most prestigious art institutions around the world. In 2007, he was selected by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council to represent Northern Ireland at the 52nd Venice Biennale, and he has twice been a Turner Prize nominee.
This is Doherty’s first solo show at an Italian institution. A new video installation has been commissioned for the occasion, which will be displayed as a two-screen work in the gallery in Modena. It will also be available to view online from 12 to 16 November.
Doherty will also be a visiting professor at the FMAV – School of Advanced Studies for its Masters in Contemporary Images. The course gives young artists the opportunity to work with the great Italian and international artists featured at the FMAV.
Artist Willie Doherty said: “I am delighted to participate in the British Council’s UK/Italy Season and to be part of this important dialogue about how we can make art present and vibrant in both physical and digital spaces. My exhibition WHERE / DOVE presents a body of work that deals with how we live with and negotiate our way through and around borders. Borders can present the opportunity for positive change, for recognition of other perspectives, for compassion and understanding in the face of adversity and fear.”
Jonathan Stewart, British Council Northern Ireland Director, said: “We are honoured to be working in partnership with FMAV, Modena and the Ulster Museum, Belfast to present this solo exhibition of one of Northern Ireland’s leading international artists, Willie Doherty. WHERE / DOVE connects us at a time when supporting the work of artists internationally, as well as the museums and galleries sectors, has never been more important.”
Daniele De Luigi, Curator at FMAV, said: “We are delighted at FMAV to be the first Italian institution to present a solo exhibition by Northern Ireland artist Willie Doherty. FMAV has a long-standing tradition of photography and video, and we are committed to showcasing artists such as Doherty, whose work provides a profound reflection on the issues facing society today. Putting together an international exhibition of this scale, during a global pandemic, was a challenge that makes us even prouder of our commitment to the UK/Italy Season.”
Róisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “We have a close partnership with the British Council and together have supported many influential Northern Ireland artists in their international careers. We are proud that Willie Doherty, one of Northern Ireland’s foremost contemporary visual artists, is being showcased at the British Council’s UK/Italy Season.”
The British Council’s UK/Italy Season 2020 is a digitally-led programme, organised in close cooperation with the British Embassy in Italy. It connects prominent arts and education professionals from both countries to support cultural resilience, share creative innovation and establish new international networks.