"Few artists are as adept at instilling dread and disquiet as Willie Doherty. His 2012 film Secretion, originally made for Documenta 13, is currently being screened at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s premises at Earlsfort Terrace. It dominates the building’s Annex gallery, and this allowance of space invites one to appreciate the subtle, ambient soundtrack and vivid, close-up depictions of mould and fungus. An elusive, ambiguous commentary unfolds against Doherty’s imagery, tracing the effects of a mysterious outbreak that infects first woodlands, then nearby houses and eventually the character of ‘X’, the occupant of one such domicile and the guard of a detainee facility for those affected. With the relentless spread of the virus into waterways and reservoirs, he escapes to a life of solitude and ‘the festering interior of his house’. Doherty refrains from showing any of this, dwelling instead on lingering shots of rotting foliage, dead trees, mildew and must, damp and decay, as the commentary doubles back to question the verifiability of its own account: ‘’As his condition worsened he was frequently visited by hallucinations. Deep pools of dark water opened up around him … It was as if he had never completed his escape.’ The absence of an identifiable protagonist and the suffocating atmosphere of the footage seems to permeate the viewer; one imagines the insidious creep of the disease, gradually filling and contaminating the surrounding air of the vast screening area. While, to some extent, Doherty remains inevitably associated with the similarly unsettling films he made about Northern Ireland, Secretion represents a compelling shift in his practice, away from the historical specificity of the Troubles yet, in its own way, just as troubling."
Art Monthly, September 2013, p. 33