Willie Doherty Embodies Ulster’s “Troubles”

THE DAILY PIC: A video by the Irishman captures how violence lives on in our flesh.


This is a still from Willie Doherty’s excellent new video, called The Amnesiac and on view at Alexander and Bonin gallery in New York. (Click on my image to watch two clips from it.) It’s an utterly simple piece that shows a man stopping his car on a forested road, walking out amid the trees and then lying down on the leaf-covered ground, as though suddenly compelled to retrieve and relive an earlier moment of trauma – either suffered or inflicted by him. For anyone who knows Doherty’s earlier works on the Troubles in his native Northern Ireland, it immediately evokes the mark that violence leaves on the mind, and on our bodies’ recollection of where they have been and what they’ve been through. (Another video in the show makes the Irish context more clear.) It’s a shame that there’s one false note in The Amnesiac: For a brief moment, Doherty feels compelled to show us, in flashback, the contents of his protagonist’s recollection. The point is made more boldly when all we have to go on is his actions. (Image courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York)

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