After two years of
negotiations between the Wellcome Trust, Imperial War Museum and
Ministry of Defence, David Cotterrell was invited to observe the Joint
Forces Medical Group at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
He underwent basic training, was taught the rudiments of battlefield
first aid and issued with body armour. In November 2007, he flew in an
RAF C17 from Brize Norton to Kandahar, the sole passenger in a plane
loaded with half a million rounds of palletised munitions and medical
supplies to join Operation Herrick 7.
Focusing on these experiences and their inevitable aftermath, Cotterrell
produced a new body of photographic and video work. Serial Loop explores
the transport and treatment of casualties during a Major Incident. The
sound of a continuously arriving and departing Chinook helicopter
accompanies images of a bleak and wasted landscape; the banality of the
film’s fixed perspective masks the dramas that unfold within the
ambulances as they travel to triage. A fire rages in the distance while
antiquated ambulances lumber along to take wounded to treatment areas.
During Cotterrell’s stay in Helmand, two British soldiers died, 29 were
wounded in action and 74 were admitted to the field hospital. 71 Aeromed
evacuations were recorded and an undisclosed number of civilian,
insurgent and Afghan National Army soldiers were treated.
'Serial Loop' was at Stroud Valley
Artspace on 29/10/09