Film

Art

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Doherty, born and based in Derry, Northern Ireland, has always had a subtle, insinuating way of channeling his country’s conflicts (and the larger world’s unrest) into his work. “Non-Specific Threat,” the title of his latest show of photographs and video, could apply to his entire oeuvre. As usual, violence or danger is merely implied, but the personification of that menace is no longer lurking offstage. At the center of each of Doherty’s six large color photos is a tough-looking young white man with a shaved head and a deliberately impassive yet challenging expression. Standing in some urban cul-de-sac, this handsome brute turns away from the camera’s gaze in every photo but one, and there his eyes are so shadowed they’re unreadable. The same man appears in the video, only here the camera circles him, as if trying to find a chink in his blank, defended facade. On the soundtrack, a voice that seems to prophesy the end of civilization as we know it (“There will be no books. There will be no music”) also seems to speak the man’s mind: “I am fictional. I am the reflection of all your fears. I am real.” As fascinating as a coiled snake and full of seductive contradictions, the piece is Doherty at his best: unrelenting and drop-dead elegant.

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