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?
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.”
“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.”
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”。