February 24, 2008

Willie Doherty: Non-Specific Threat

Filed under: Political,Video — Graham Coulter-Smith @ 2:25 pm

Willie Doherty, Stills from Non-Specific Threat, 2004. Video 7min 46sec, colour, sound. Shown at the 51st Venice Biennale 2005Willie Doherty’s Non-Specific Threat, 2004, is a simple and powerful single channel, video projection. The camera moves in a circular tracking shot around a tough looking baldheaded man with a gold chain around his neck and a denim jacket. The mise-en-scène appears to be a derelict warehouse. It’s the kind of place which might be chosen for the purposes of torture and/or murder. As the camera tracks slowly around this threatening presence a male voiceover, disembodied from the central figure, makes a series of cryptic statements punctuated by pregnant pauses. For example:

I will be anything you want me to be
You create me
I am unknowable
I am everything that you desire
I am forbidden
I am inside you
I am self-contained
There will be no music
I am your victim

Doherty lives in Northern Ireland and until the peace process his work often referred to what the British government like to refer to euphemistically as the “troubles”, meaning the civil war between Catholics and Protestants. Since the peace process Doherty’s work is more focused on what he refers to as “non-specific threat”, a notion that has a great deal of relevance to the current “war on terror” that is motivated to a significant extent by politicians’ desire to gain more power by infecting their populations with fear. For an interview with Doherty regarding this particular work go to YouTube.


  1. Kramer auto Pingback[…] Doherty, Non-Specific Threat, 2005. For text on this work go to http:/… artintelligence | February 18, 2008 | 5 likes, 0 […]

    Pingback by YouTube - Willie Doherty, Non-Specific Threat, 2005 — January 3, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  2. Good website, very useful for education. However, make sure you get all your facts correct, because it undermines your website to refer to “the civil war between Catholics and Protestants” there was not a “civil war” in Northern Ireland there was a guerilla war between the Republican IRA, who want to be part of Ireland, and the United Kingdom as represented by the British army, the IRA saw them as an occupying force. There was also retaliation from Unionist terrorist groups. While both unionists and the IRA may have their origins in religion, their causes can not be simplified as a war between Catholics and Protestants because most Catholics and Protestants live peacefully and wanted nothing to do with the violence.

    Comment by Judith Tutin — March 28, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

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