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15 July 2020

The Healthy Scepticism project runs artist-led mini projects: 'Evidence and expertise in the time of Covid-19'

The Wellcome-funded Healthy Scepticism project, operated out of the Department of History, is running several artist-led projects on expertise and evidence in the time of Covid-19.

Mask me anything image

Healthy Scepticism aims to examine and make sense of the doubt, cynicism, suspicion and distrust in and around medical practice from the mid-20th century to the present. 

Their newest project Evidence and Expertise in the time of Covid-19 is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the King’s Together Multi and Interdisciplinary Research Scheme and explores the tensions concerning the nature and reliability of expertise and evidence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project scrutinises the contemporary crises over evidence and expertise via one object – masks; one government directive – ‘sheltering in place’ or quarantining; and one pressing question: how do we parse scientific knowledge, judging what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong,’ in a ‘novel’ situation, where nothing is for sure, and where only time has anything determinative to tell? 

Led by several of the HS artist collaborators, it will examine these issues, along the way trialing the unique ‘mixed methodology’ of artistic and scholarly research that has been a goal of the project from its inception.

Evidence and Expertise in the time of Covid-19 hopes to offer vivid new perspectives on our pandemic moment, while also exploring the longer, larger arguments about the nature of evidence and expertise when it comes to our health.





"The King’s COVID-19 funding gave us the incredible opportunity to invite a group of artists to reflect on the pandemic and on healthcare more largely, sometimes from historical prompts or objects, sometimes from current events. We ended up with an amazing group of talented artists - the filmmaker Helmie Stil, the multimedia artists Jeff Rees and Alasdair Hopwood, and the photographer Lucas Canino – along with some fantastic historians – Jesse Olszynko-Gryn at Strathclyde and Agnes Arnold-Forster at Roehampton - to co-lead these projects. The collaboration has so far been really amazing and fulfilling. Helmie’s film BOX, which is a personal look at lockdown, is just beautiful and provocative in ways that exceed the particulars of the pandemic, and Jeff Rees’ mask exhibition has provided really playful but also cutting commentary on how DIY mask-making contains with it a commentary of the twinned medical crises of evidence and expertise.

Dr Caitjan Gainty, Lecturer in the History of Science, Technology & Medicine at King’s College London and project PI

For more information on the 'Mask me Anything' project led by Geoffrey Rees, Jesse Olszynko-Gryn and Lucas Canino, click here.

For more information on 'BOX' led by Helmie Stil and Agnes Arnold-Forster, click here.

In this story

Caitjan Gainty

Senior Lecturer in the History of Science, Technology & Medicine