What Money Can’t Buy

Money Soldiers

Can money be a kind of art?

Everyone knows what paper money looks like, but not everyone’s observed it closely. For Japanese origami artist Yosuke Hasegawa, whose imagination borders on madness, banknotes are worth more than their face value. Bills from different countries have different designs that reflect their history and culture,  but most feature a portrait of a famous historical figure. Yet what if those figures could cast off their stolid, decades-old appearance?


来自日本的折纸艺术家长谷川洋介(Yosuke Hasegawa)对于纸钞这个每个人都习以为常、却不曾仔细观察过的日常用品,怀抱着几近疯狂的想像,对他来说,纸钞承载的不单单只有金钱的重量而已。各国纸钞因应各地历史和文化有着不同的设计,最普遍的是印有当地伟大历史人物的肖像。如果,这些名人能够摆脱百年来一如既往的严肃样貌呢?

Lincoln Cup (USA)
Lincoln Ninja (USA)
From Mongolia
From India
From Japan

Hasegawa has traveled to eighteen countries, including the US, the UK, India, Vietnam, and Nepal, and he’s collected money from all of them. Banknotes from more distant countries, or those that have been discontinued, he buys on the internet. Then he uses the portrait on the bill to make playful origami or collage pieces.

So far he’s made origami works with banknotes from 60 countries. How did he start doing all this? “At first, I took inspiration from another people’s money origami. Using money was very shocking and interesting for me, so just I tried to fold some. And I found out that I could do it perfectly on the first try, even without practice,” he says. “I made something new every time. And I couldn’t stop folding money.”



Party Queen (UK)
Jackson Clown (USA)
From Japan

“What I keep in mind when I fold origami is that the edge and folding lines should be sharp and crisp. Image, nuance, and balance are important, as is how it fits with the portrait,” he explains. “Traditional Japanese origami is mathematics, but my money origami is kind of freestyle folding.”

“在折纸过程中,我经常面临的挑战是如何让肖像清楚地展示,同时折出锋利的边缘和干净的收边。构图、平衡、微妙的细节之处,它们如何与人像契合,是我折纸最重视的部分。” 他进一步解释,“传袭于日本传统的折纸艺术,这是一种与数学原理相近,需要精密计算的艺术。但我折纸的时候更倾向于自由发挥。”

Einstein on the Street
Elizabeth on the Street

In Hasegawa’s hands, money becomes like a kind of art. He sees it simply as a medium, dismissing any thought of its conventional worth and endowing it with a new value.

“Origami is only part of my money works. I’m more interested in the demolition and rebirth of the value of money,” he says. “Each banknote has a value, but after it becomes origami, maybe you can no longer recognize that value.”

在长谷川洋介的手上,钱俨然成为一种艺术。他将之视为一种单纯的素材,脱去普遍 “价格” 的思考,再赋予新的 “价值”。



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Contributor: Yang Yixuan

网站: yosuke89.wixsite.com


供稿人: Yang Yixuan