Willie Doherty

Without Trace

March 8 - April 13, 2013

It is with great delight that Galerie Peter Kilchmann exhibits Willie Dohertyʼs solo show “Without Trace”.

The collaboration with Willie Doherty exists from the galleryʼs very start. This is his eighth solo show in the

gallery. The artist was born 1959 in Derry, Northern Ireland. Today he lives in Donegal, Ireland. “Without

Trace” is the world premier of a new body of work by Willie Doherty, filmed and photographed entirely in


It is a rare occasion that Willie Doherty has realized a body of work outside of Northern Ireland. In addition it

is the very first time that he has focused so intently on snow, the presence of which receives an almost

mystical connotation in his new film Without Trace (2013). A man disappears without trace in Zurich. The

snow has made all traces disappear. Notebooks found in the manʼs apartment reveal his thoughts and

impression of isolation. The screening of the 13-minute video work (Ed. of 3) is accompanied by a series of

11 large color C-prints on aluminium, as Without Trace (Into Thin Air) (2013, 120 x 160 cm, framed, Ed. of

3). The photographs show a contemporary Zurich, acknowledging a temporality without being defined by it.

The photographic works alone already tell stories of the tensions between massive architectures and unruly

nature; scenes in which practically all traces of single persons have been erased.

In his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent”, T.S. Eliot writes about the simultaneity of historical past

and contemporary present in works of great art, naming it a “historical sense”. The author describes it as “a

sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together […]”. It is

this feeling, that of many stories that are happening instantaneously, swirling together and separating

incessantly, that is present in the video and photographic works of Willie Doherty. Since the 1980s Willie

Dohertyʼs work has been informed by the complex history of his hometown Derry and the conflicts between

Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist communities in Northern Ireland. Creating works abroad, during

a DAAD-residency in Berlin, or for Manifesta 8 in Murcia, Spain, he has carried this acute historical awareness

with him.

It is with this approach that Willie Doherty recently engaged with Zurich, gathering visual impressions and

observing historical attributes during several trips to the city. The resulting works structure the collected

findings in a new order and ascribe them a new significance. The rivers Sihl and Limmat play an important

role, as does the continuing shift of the cityʼs periphery. An ambivalent play with reality and fiction informs

Without Trace, in which the slowly panning camera follows the cityʼs streams, rivers and suburban

developments. Willie Doherty guides the cameraʼs eye to capture the cityʼs movement and standstill, going

beyond the clandestine outskirts of Zurich and the margins of the city.

With this exhibition Willie Doherty follows up on his recent video work Secretion, which he produced for the

Documenta 13. Shot in and around Kassel in the winter of 2011, Secretion draws upon the possibilities of

lost and forgotten narratives located somewhere between recent history and a near future, echoing other

video works by Willie Doherty such as Non-Specific Threat (2004), Closure (2005), or Ghost Story (2007),

which was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Works by Willie Doherty are currently on show at

exhibitions at the National Gallery of Denmark SMK, Copenhagen; Tate Britain, London; and Fotomuseum

Winterthur. Willie Doherty will be participating in the City of Culture festival in Derry-Londonderry in October

2013. Catalogs available for purchase through the gallery include Disturbance, published by The Hugh Lane

Gallery, Dublin, 2011; Buried, published by The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2009; and Anthology of

Time-Based Works, published by Kunstverein Hamburg, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau

München, 2007.