A film documenting the symbolic burial of Patrick Ireland, the alter ego of the distinguished Irish artist Brian ODoherty, was launched by Loopline Film and is directed by Sé Merry Doyle. The film is produced by Vanessa Gildea and financed by the Irish Film Board and Loopline Film.
On 20 May 2008, after 36 years of making art as Patrick Ireland, Brian O'Doherty reclaimed his birth name with the burial of his alter ego in the grounds of IMMA
. The burial was a gesture of reconciliation to celebrate the restoration of peace in Northern Ireland , just as his action in assuming the name Patrick Ireland was a protest at the British military presence in Northern Ireland and the failure of the authorities to ensure civil rights for all.
During the Irish Exhibition of Living Art at the Project Arts Centre in 1972, O'Doherty, in a performance before 30 invited witnesses and assisted by Robert Ballagh and Brian King, undertook to "sign his artworks Patrick Ireland until such time as the British military presence is removed from Northern Ireland and all citizens are granted their civil rights." This commitment, often seen as controversial, the artist described as "an expatriate's gesture in response to Bloody Sunday in Derry ."
Born in Ballaghadereen, Co Roscommon, Brian O'Doherty variously exhibited in the Irish Exhibition of Living Art and in the RHA and Oireachtas exhibitions from 1950 to 1956. He moved to the United States in 1957, where he became a pioneer in the development of conceptual art and also a renowned writer and critic. He has had several retrospectives, most recently in New York University 's Grey Gallery . His work has been seen in Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and Rosc. He is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York , the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington and the Centre Pompidou in Paris . The influence of his ground-breaking collection of essays Inside the White Cube continues to this day.
Commenting on the film, director Sé Merry Doyle said: I first came across the names Brian ODoherty/Patrick Ireland in 1974 when I worked at the Project Arts Centre. Even two years after the event had taken place people were still talking about Brian ODohertys historic name change. When the news broke that 34 years later he was going to change his name back to Brian ODoherty I felt compelled to document this. The film is not so much a documentary as a document for the ages. It is a document that I hope will throw light on one of the most important political art statements to come out of Ireland .
The launch coincides with the gift to the Irish Museum of Modern Art by Brian ODoherty and his wife, the art historian Barbara Novak, of more than 70 artworks from their own collection. An exhibition of the donated work Post-War American Art: The Novak/ODoherty Collection, is on show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art until 27 February 2011