TABLE OF CONTENTS

CLOSE-UP: SWAMP THING

Still from Willie Doherty’s Secretion, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

THE WORLD OF WILLIE DOHERTY’S Secretion, 2012, is entropic and still, a place where little moves. Set up visually as a sequence of views of woods, waters, and a deserted house, the video might perhaps have come off as pastoral if shot in breezy sunshine but speaks instead of stagnation and decay. Shooting on windless days of gray light, Doherty finds fungi, lichens, and damp leaf litter in the dank forest, and growths, molds, and creeping mildews in the crumbling house. The only thing in motion is running water, but running water spreading spores of algae, or screened by a milky film. Combining these images with a spoken text telling a story of morbidity and corruption, Doherty makes a fallen tree look as sinister as a razor in a slasher film.

The voice-over narrative describes the slow development of a mysterious sickness, transmitted on some immaterial level. It begins in the

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the special holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price. You’ll receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the September 2013 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.