Willie Doherty | ‘Dreaming (Derry)’ | 1988 | Photograph | 107 x 152cm
Since the Arts Council collection was established in the early 1960s there has been a huge growth in the number of artists using the camera to create photographs and make moving image artworks. At this time when we are all looking at an abundance of images online, we wanted to highlight some key works in the collection. There are over 100 lens-based works in the collection, and we’ve selected 14 works that are maybe not as familiar to our audiences. Works in the exhibition were created between 1987 and 2013.
Here, Willie Doherty, whose work is showcased under the ‘Four Decades of the Lens’ theme, tells us more about the featured artwork and what it means to have his artwork as part of the Arts Council collection. Explore this and more from the Arts Council collection at instagram.com/artscouncilireland/
The word ‘Dreaming’ in the title of this work suggests looking beyond the present, or imagining a different set of possibilities. This strategy of referencing something other than that which is visible in the image, has been and remains a consistent concern in my practice. I often use text or the spoken word within an artwork to evoke a sense of the inherently unstable and unfixed nature of our relationship with place, memory, and identity. The clear horizons, glimpsed in the distance, remain elusive and out of reach.
The landscapes that I photograph are often inscribed by events of the past, terrains where the forces of history and politics collide. These are not neutral spaces, they remain highly contested and retain the power to amplify our fears, and anxieties, and to shape our hopes, and aspirations. My practice is committed to evolving a language to address these complex issues, to synthesise the documentary effect of the photographic image with the uncertainty of fiction. I’m still discovering in my video and photographic works what the potential of this blend of actuality, reportage, narrative, and performance might be. Dreams of the past and of the future.
Since 1962, the Arts Council has been buying art from working artists. The Collection that evolved tells the story of modern and contemporary Irish visual art in a unique and fascinating way. Today the Collection continues to grow and its more than 1,100 paintings, sculptures and other works are on display in public spaces all over Ireland for people to experience and enjoy first hand. You can find out more at: www.artscouncil.emuseum.com