Galerie Peter Kilchmann
Zahnradstrasse 21, CH-8005 Zurich
tel. +41 44 278 10 10
January 23 - March 6, 2004
NON-SPECIFIC THREAT is a new exhibition of colour photographs and a single screen video installation by Willie Doherty. Doherty was born in 1959 in Derry, Northern Ireland. This will be
the fourth exhibition of the artist in our gallery.
A group of large-scale photographs depict a young man (see invitation card) in a variety of
nondescript urban settings by day and by night. He emerges from dark alleyways and stands
defiantly at street corners. The photographs adopt the conventions of portraiture but deny us
any factual details about the subject. He exists as a type whose purpose and whose social and
economic status we are invited to speculate about.
The man in the photographs is an actor who was chosen by the artist because of his appearance
in a television drama where he played the role of a menacing and violent character. The actor did
not alter his physical appearance for the television role or for Doherty’s photographs and the
ambiguity between the presence of the subject/actor and the fictional character is central to
the artist’s intention.
Since the early 1990’s Doherty’s work has been concerned with how we characterise the oftenunknown
person or persons behind a perceived violent or terrorist threat (see They‘re all the
Same , 1991). Our desire to recognise and scrutinise the "face of evil” is framed by our
experience of how different governments and the media have historically represented and
continue to define the terrorist. Such attempts to locate and understand a threat or an enemy
necessitate the creation of a character who is beyond reason, outside of civilised society and
who becomes known to us as a fusion of real and fictional figures.
The single screen video installation Non-Specific Threat, 2004 shows the same man standing
motionless in a dark, deserted warehouse. The camera makes a tight 360° pan around the man
allowing us to see him from every angle. He is totally available for our scrutiny as the camera
moves slowly around him. As we examine him we hear a voiceover, an internal monologue, where
he expresses explicit and veiled threats and attempts to describe the nature of his relationship
to the viewer.
The single screen video installation Pilgrimage, 2003 co-produced by Artur Zmijewski and Pawel
Althamer will be on display in the newly finished video room.
In the exhibition space kilchmann plus will be on view a group exhibition by gallery artists (Rita
Ackermann, Stefan Altenburger, Francis Alÿs, John Coplans, Fabrice Hybert, Teresa Margolles,
Adrian Paci, Santiago Sierra, Costa Vece, and Andro Wekua.)