War artist's trip to Afghanistan at the heart of new exhibition
21 November 2008
New work by contemporary artist David Cotterrell will be
unveiled for the first time as part of a major temporary exhibition
- ‘War and Medicine’ - launching on 22 November at Wellcome
Commissioned by the Wellcome Trust and supported by the Ministry
of Defence, this powerful work is a response to Cotterrell’s
experiences travelling to Afghanistan, where he spent time with
British soldiers observing and documenting their daily life.
Through film and photography Cotterrell has captured the drama
of being on the front line, in particular the extraordinary efforts
of the armed forces' medical staff and the human stories behind
'War and Medicine' will consider the continually evolving
relationship between warfare and medicine, beginning with the
disasters of the Crimean War in the 1850s, and continuing through
to today’s conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Central to the
exhibition is the uncomfortable and sometimes paradoxical
relationship between war and medicine and the question of their
influence upon each other. 'War and Medicine' will show how
humankind’s desire to repair and heal is perpetually striving to
keep pace with our capacity to maim and kill.
War and Medicine: 22 November 2008-15 February
Press viewing: Friday 21 November, 9.30-13.00 (contact
Mike Findlay for details)
Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1
Gallery opening times: Tues.-Wed., Fri.-Sat.: 10.00-18.00;
Sun.: 11.00-18.00; Closed Mon. (except Bank Holidays:
David Cotterrell spent one month in Camp Bastion in the Helmand
Province last year, his trip having been inspired by the
realisation that he is part of the last generation to have living
relatives who experienced World War II.
Cotterrell explains: “Growing up I can recall in-depth
conversations with my grandfather about his own memories of war,
and I feel fortunate to have been born into a generation that was
not required to join the military. My experiences of life will
always be moderate compared to his, and I have often wondered how
people who have experienced war have managed to adjust to life
Cotterrell has created two film installations that will immerse
visitors to the exhibition in the realities of contemporary
'Theatre' is a five-screen panoramic video projection that lasts
60 minutes, in which Cotterrell attempts to contextualise his
experience of witnessing the treatment of combat victims in Camp
'9-Liner' is a three-screen video projection lasting 25 minutes,
which explores the dislocation between the parallel experiences of
casualties within theatre. It is a quiet study of a dramatic event:
the attempt to bring those injured to the tented entrance of the
desert field hospital.
David Cotterrell’s diary written during his time in Camp Bastion
is an incredibly moving document of what he witnessed in
Afghanistan as well as his personal struggle to come to terms with
his role as an 'official war artist'. His work reveals not only the
way medicine is administered in combat situations but also the
human stories that lie beneath the casualty statistics.
Extracts from his diary have been published as part of ‘War and
Medicine’ the book, by Black Dog Publishing Ltd.
David Cotterrell will be ‘in conversation’ with curator and
writer Angela Weight on Saturday 7 February at a free event in
Wellcome Collection. For more details, please see the events
Notes to editors
For further details, images, interview requests or to attend the
press private view please contact:
Media Officer (Wellcome Collection)
T: 020 7611 8612
Medicine’ is the sixth major temporary exhibition at Wellcome
Collection, and is the second of a two-part collaboration with The
Museum of Man (Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden).
David Cotterrell received an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College
of Art & Design in 1997. He is an installation artist working
across varied forms including video, audio, interactive media,
artificial intelligence, device control and hybrid technology. His
work exhibits political, social and behavioural analyses of the
environments and contexts that he inhabits.
Cotterrell is Professor of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam
University. Over the last ten years, his work has been extensively
commissioned and exhibited in North America, Europe and the Far
East for gallery spaces, museums and the public realm. Recent
exhibitions include: 'Eastern Standard: Western artists in China'
at MASS MoCA North Adams, Massachusetts, and 'Map Games' at the
Today Museum of Modern Art, Bejing and Birmingham City Art Gallery.
He is currently researching and developing new work with advanced
simulation company SEOS, with the support of an Arts Council
Cotterrell’s work for the Wellcome Trust has been supported by
the Ministry of Defence, who enabled his stay at Camp Bastion in
November 2007. This work was further supported by the RSA, who
invited him to stay in Kabul for a month in early 2008 in order to
view an alternative aspect of Afghanistan.
War and Medicine events
To coincide with the exhibition, a lively programme of
discussions, debates, film screenings and tours will allow visitors
to engage in dialogue with experts from the arts and sciences.
A Doctor’s Duty
Thursday 15 January, 19.00-20.30
Ethical responsibility in the climate of war
We expect a great deal of our medical professionals. War only
increases this pressure. New ethical dilemmas arise that may
challenge them to place politics above an individual’s welfare.
Does military ideology have the potential to influence medical
Ulf Schmitt, Historian, University of Kent
Don Carrick, Military and medical ethicists, University of Hull
Late-night Film Festival
Saturday 17 January, 16.00-23.00
Join us for a collection of feature films and shorts that
provide fascinating fictional and real-life insights into the lives
of soldiers, surgeons and civilians. Discover the perspectives of
World War II bombers and Kurdish villagers, and enjoy quirky
animated health warnings and field hospital high-jinks.
Thursday 22 January, 19.00-20.30
How do different cultures understand it?
At the extreme of physical and mental damage lies trauma. But
what causes trauma in the first place and what makes it different
from other injury? This is a subject fraught with difficulties.
This event will bring together anthropological and psychological
perspectives to tackle these contemporary issues.
Catherine Panter-Brick, Medical Anthropologist, University of
Derek Summerfield, Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of
Friday 30 January 19.00-21.00, Saturday 10.30-17.00
Recollection and reflection of individuals and nations.
Nostalgia, trauma, the good times and the bad. War can consume a
whole culture. How does memory affect our understanding of what has
happened? Should we try to remember or forget our experiences of
wartime? Is it possible for literature, film or art to truly
reflect the atrocities of war? Join our experts from the worlds of
neuroscience, psychology, visual culture and history as we try to
unpick these complex issues.
In partnership with the European Dana Alliance for the
Memory like Shells Bursting
Friday 30 January, 19.00-21.00
Live performance with the Allegri Quartet of Shostakovich's 8th
Quartet and 'Memory Like Shells Bursting', composed by Karen
Wimhurst and WWII veteran Norman Winchester. Tours of the
exhibition will also be available. Followed by a drinks
Talks and discussions
Saturday 31 January, 10.30-17.00
Martin Conway, Cognitive psychologist, University of Leeds
Kate Forde and Lucy Shanahan, Curators of 'War and Medicine'
Jordan Grafman, Cognitive Neuroscience Section, Institute of
Catherine Moriarty, Principal Research Fellow of Arts &
Architecture, University of Brighton
Simon Wessely, Director, King’s Centre for Military Health
Research, Institute of Psychiatry
Please call 020 7611 2222 to book.
Thursday 5 February, 19.00-20.30
In recent times, medical care on the front line has improved so
much that people who would have once died in battle are now
returning home to live with one or more limbs missing. But how do
prosthetics today compare with those of the past? Join medical
experts and hear personal perspectives to explore the issues.
David Cotterrell in Conversation
Saturday 7 February, 15.00-16.30
In November 2007 artist David Cotterrell undertook a three-week
residency in Afghanistan at the British base Camp Bastion in
Helmand Province, where he observed the work of army medical teams
responding to military and civilian casualties.
This event will be a chance to view previously unseen images
from David’s residency and hear about his time in Afghanistan.
David will be joined in conversation by Angela Weight.
Thursday 4 December, 15.00 Emily Mayhew,
historian and author of ‘The Reconstruction of Warriors’,
Friday 12 December, 15.00, Roger Cooter,
Historian, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at
Friday 18 December, Richard Hollingham, author of
Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery’
Friday 16 January, Kate Forde, Co-curator of the
Friday 23 January, James Peto, Senior Curator,
Wednesday 28 January, Lucy Shanahan, Co-curator of
Public booking information
Tickets: All events are free, unless otherwise stated.
Booking: Phone: 020 7611 2222, email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
or book online.
The Wellcome Trust is the largest
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UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to
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Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its
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