october 26, 2020 - Fondazione Modena Arti Visive

Willie Doherty, 'Where / Dove' at the Fondazione Modena Arti Visive

Willie Doherty
Where / Dove

Curated by
Daniele De Luigi and Anne Stewart

6 November 2020 - 31 January 2021

Fondazione #modena Arti Visive

Palazzina dei Giardini

Corso Cavour 2, Modena

Fondazione #modena Arti Visive presents Where / Dove, the first solo show featuring Northern Irish artist Willie Doherty (Derry, 1959) at an Italian institution, scheduled at the Palazzina dei Giardini from 6 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.

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 February 2021.

Produced with support from the British Council, as part of the “Being Present” (Esserci) UK/Italy 2020 Cultural Season, it gives an overview of Doherty’s career in photography and time-based media. Focusing on the topic of borders, the exhibition spans works from the 1990s to the present, and features a new video installation commissioned for the occasion.

Willie Doherty has established a major international reputation for his work in photography and time-based media arising from his experience of the Troubles in his native Derry. Situated at the western edge of Europe, on the border between the UK and Ireland, Derry is a place where the complexities of history and politics have shaped the physical and psychological experience of the landscape.  It is with immense subtlety that Doherty addresses subjects which touch on the legacy of colonialism, conflict and the fault-lines, both real and perceived, that divide individuals and communities. 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. More recently, the artist has extended his gaze to other contested geographical areas, such as the border between the United States and Mexico where the systematic erection of a border wall creates the illusion of control while the false certainties of security and strength are instrumentalized and reinforced.

Although central to Doherty’s practice, this is the first time the theme of borders – both tangible and imagined – has been addressed in a dedicated exhibition. Revealing the numerous complex political, social and psychological implications, his work challenges the viewer to re-consider the value and meaning of these fault-lines. And it is no coincidence that all of this comes at a point in history when this topic has become pressing not only in the United Kingdom as it leaves the European Union, thereby re-defining the border with Ireland, but also at global level, in this era of migrations and pandemics.

Willie Doherty will be visiting professor at the FMAV - School of Advanced Studies for its Master’s in Contemporary Images. Designed to train young artists, the course gives its budding talents the extraordinary opportunity to come face to face with the great Italian and international artists featured in the FMAV exhibition programme. During the course, the artists will personally accompany the students as they look for and try out new approaches, languages and projects (scuola.fmav.org).

Willie Doherty has held numerous solo exhibitions in some of the most prestigious international institutions, including the Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Neue Galerie, Museumslandschaft Hessen, Kassel; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Dallas Museum of Art; De Appel, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, Liverpool; Kunsthalle Bern; Kunstverein, Munich; Kunstverein, Hamburg; and Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. 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. He has twice been a Turner Prize nominee and has taken part in other important international exhibitions, amongst which Documenta, Manifesta and the biennales of São Paulo and Istanbul. His most recent group exhibitions include: The Otherside, Borderlands in Contemporary Irish Art, Dortmunder U, Dortmund; Walking through Walls, Berliner Festspiele, Gropius BAU, Berlin (2020); How the Light Gets In, Johnson Museum of Art, New York; Shaping Ireland: Landscapes In Irish Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; and Political: Language Is Not Innocent, Kunstverein Hamburg (2019). His works is represented in the #fondazionemodenaartivisive and the Ulster Museum collections, as well as in numerous others, including those of the British Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Fundació “La Caixa”, Barcelona; European Commission/Parliament, Brussels; Imperial War Museum, London; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Britain, London; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Willie Doherty

Where / Dove

Curated by

Daniele De Luigi and Anne Stewart


FMAV – Palazzina dei Giardini

Corso Cavour 2, Modena


6 November 2020 – 31 January 2021

Opening Times

Wednesday–Thursday–Friday: 11am – 1pm / 4pm – 7pm; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 11am – 7pm

25 December and 1 January: 4pm – 7pm


Adults €6 | Concessions €4

Free entry: Wednesdays | first Sunday of the month

Buy online on Vivaticket

Co-produced by

Fondazione #modena Arti Visive and Ulster Museum part of National Museums NI

With the support of

British Council

In collaboration with

Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, and Alexander and Bonin, New York


Tel. +39 059 2033166 (during exhibition hours) | www.fmav.org


Irene Guzman | T. +39 349 1250956 | i.guzman@fmav.org

Download the press kit: www.fmav.org/area-stampa

Fondazione #modena Arti Visive, founded in 2017 by Comune di #modena and Fondazione di #modena, is a cultural production and professional training centre whose goal is to spread #contemporaryart and visual culture. With its set of venues, #fondazionemodenaartivisive takes up the legacy of the three institutions merged into it – Galleria Civica di #modena, Fondazione #fotografia di #modena and #museo della Figurina – to form a veritable cultural district. The foundation proposes and organizes exhibitions and advanced training courses, workshops, performances and conferences, as well as promoting the collections that it manages and building a system of networks on a local and a wider scale. Fondazione #modena Arti Visive is increasingly linking its exhibition activities with the educational programmes at the School of Advanced Studies, which offers the Master’s in Contemporary Images and ICON course for Curators of Contemporary Images.    

National Museums NI is Northern Ireland’s foremost cultural and heritage museum group welcoming over 900,000 visitors a year. The group includes the Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park. We are the custodians of the National Collection of 1.4 million objects which are multidisciplinary, diverse and span all time periods and reflect the creativity, innovation, history, culture and #people of Northern Ireland and beyond.

The Ulster Museum is Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and the present – home to rich collections of art, history and natural sciences (www.nmni.com).