Every day for 100 days Khanyi Mawhayi painted a gold sticker, gilding small
rewards for the daily work of living.
Khanyi Mawhayi, Midas Touch, 28/100. One gold sticker for asking for help (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and CHURCH Projects.
Every day for 100 days in the winter of 2022, Khanyi Mawhayi painted a circle of gold acrylic on black paper and posted a picture to Instagram, including with each simple painting a title that rewarded a simple achievement in the daily work of living. The first sticker is for being born, the last for finishing what you started. The project became a durational and closely-watched performance, and one with a clear objective, to reach 100/100, the perfect score. It follows that the work tested the artist, as she found it increasingly difficult to distinguish the mundane from the luxurious. At first thought, one gold sticker for brushing your teeth seems simple enough, but when you consider the types of material access needed to do something so essential, it’s no small feat.
When thinking about celebrating people, and especially Black people, why are we obsessed with the exceptional? Why is the fanfare for the “first,” the “youngest” and the “only”? What about everyone else, the second, the average-aged, the one-of-many..? What are the dangers of “Black excellence”? As the myth of King Midas warns, unchecked greed and ambition can distract from and even destroy the valuable but simple things in life. Undermining the logics of gold and value with the paintings and a documented performance, Mawhayi advances her experiments in conceptual abstraction to ask if and how we can counter the demand for Black exceptionalism by instead awarding the mundane.
The exhibition is on view until the 18th of November, 2023. For more information, please visit CHURCH Projects.