American History Reinvented > part 6: Amputation without Anaesthesia [photographs]
The horrific consequences of the Civil War battlefield were not the initial wounds caused by speeding lead bullets and canon ball but the infective consequences of gangrene which later set in. Without antibiotics the open wound provided a perfect medium for roving bacteria awaiting the chance to colonize a breach in the body. For the soldier so contaminated the only recourse was amputation done on the battlefield. Todays modern medical practices of putting the patient to sleep were not yet appreciated and instead were substituted for shot of whiskey or many shots of whiskey and something to bite on. Here this reenactment of the medical encampment of the battlefield at Chicamauga was a sordid affair where hollywood props served as servomechanisms of historical memory superimposed on the horror film cliche of blood and guts such as found of the Night of the Living Dead or a Paul McCarthy Performance. The installation at the Photographic Resource Center included red spot lighes which turned the red paint,used to overpaint the photograph to illustrate the blood, black.