Doherty does not reserve his wry commentaries entirely for his native city, but has turned an equally questioning eye towards the pretences and aspirations of the Republic. The photomontages here refer to different aspects of 'Free State' culture, and show architectural details of Dublin which have a symbolic role in the history of the Free State; the General Post Office, scene of the 1916 Rising and the cobblestones of Trinity College. Over these images, Doherty has laid words which gently chide the aspirations of the Republic. 'Evergreen Memories' over the GPO clock might be read as an ironic commentary on the alacrity with which recent Irish governments have sought to distance themselves from 1916. In these works, Doherty strips away that ardent partisanship which characterises most discourses on Northern Ireland. Like Jeff Wall, Ken Lum and other Vancouver artists who produce similarly detached and ironic photographic works, Doherty deliberately sets out to make a peripheral city the centre of his investigation.
The Panels Read
Lit. - Cameron, 1993
Willie Doherty was born and raised in Derry, where he still lives today. Although his native city has been a divided community since the seventeenth century, it has survived and thrived, sometimes with great animosity, other times with surprising good humour. That latter quality was singularly lacking in 1972, when unarmed Catholic civil rights protesters were killed by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, and it has disappeared from sight on several occasions over the past quarter of a century, with riots, bombings and killings pushing the communities even further apart. Unlike Belfast, Derry has a majority of Catholics in its population; it is close to Donegal and the border with the Republic of Ireland. Thus, the loyalists feel themselves endangered, and annually celebrate their victory at the Siege of Derry in 1689 with much ardent drumming and proclamations. Only time will tell how the cessation of political violence of late 1994 will last, but it has been greatly welcomed in this divided city.