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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A location between two views: Contested territory in Northern Ireland and the art of Willie Doherty
by Overton, Caitlin, M.A., Southern Methodist University, 2011, 99; 1495165
Abstract (Summary)

Northern Ireland's contemporary visual culture reflects the ethno-political conflict, known as the Troubles, that spanned four decades from the late 1960s to the Belfast Peace Agreement in 1998. Since the mid 1980s, the Northern Irish artist Willie Doherty has reacted to this proliferation of violent images in the news media by creating immersive environments, which inscribe the rhetoric of each distinct discourse into the landscape of Derry/Londonderry. The concept of contested territory is explored through Doherty's telescopic lens, and his works' installation as diptychs or elongated panels confines the viewer within the binarized communities of the British-Unionists and the Irish-Nationalists.

This thesis examines three of Doherty's photoworks—Stone Upon Stone, The Walls, and Protecting/Invading—in relation to the visual culture of the Troubles. Photojournalism and mural culture informs the artist's work, and the vinyl lettering applied to the black-and-white landscape photographs are derived from these two histories. This study also examines the artist's style in relation to the photographers Paul Graham and Paul Seawright, and the British land artists Richard Long and Hamish Fulton. The ambivalence present in the language of Doherty's work, and the national identities they reference, emphasize the way history is used by each side to claim authority over the other, and suggest a type of territoriality. Doherty translates the everyday existence of living within an urban conflict to the gallery setting by activating viewer's positioning within the work. The divergent views displayed in Doherty's photoworks situate his audience as an active participant in the artwork, and in the perpetuation of the conflict.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stryker, Eric M.
Commitee: Bergman-Carton, Janis, Sudan, Rajani
School: Southern Methodist University
Department: Art History
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: MAI 49/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history
Keywords: Doherty, Willie, Murals, Northern Ireland, Photography, Territory, The Troubles
Publication Number: 1495165
ISBN: 978-1-124-71704-3
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