The language of war around coronavirus has come under its own metaphorical fire in recent days—descriptions of the UK prime minister Boris Johnson as a “fighter” who will “win this battle” appearing “trite and misleading”, as the BBC journalist Emily Maitlis summed up so flawlessly on Newsnight last night.
The British artist Harland Miller, who has made a career out of deadpan one-liners, has also turned a usually gung-ho aphorism—who dares wins—into something more considerate for these troubling times: who cares wins.
White Cube is now selling 250 editions of the print, Who Cares Wins (2020), created in the style of Miller’s Penguin dust jacket series, for £5,000 each. The aim is to raise £1.25m for those working on the coronavirus frontline, particularly carers, who are among the lowest paid in society but also most at risk of catching the disease.
Miller says he first thought of the words when thinking about caring for people with dementia, specifically his dad. “At the time the phrase worked like a five second pep talk to myself, to keep caring, because really that’s all I could do,” he says
“Sitting here in my ﬂat, nursing mercifully mild symptoms of Covid-19, I see from the lowering sun outside, it’s been a while since I wrote that last line… this inertia maybe a symptom of Covid-19, but it may also be that then—as now—caring is all we can do. And caring for the carers… is, I imagine, one of the ways we can do this best.”
All proceeds of the sale will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust in the UK, the New York Community Trust and HandsOn Hong Kong. Part of the UK funds will also go to the York Teaching Hospital Charity to support NHS staff in hospitals across Yorkshire, England where Miller was born.
Update: all editions sold out in less than 24 hours. The gallery said in a statement: “Harland and all of us at White Cube are completely overwhelmed by the generosity and speed of response to this special initiative in support of those fighting the virus.”