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Novye Dengi (New Money)


Leonid Parfyonov, Elena Kitaeva, Marat Guelman

1996



Participants in the project

The author - Leonid Parfyonov
Graduated from the journalism department of the Leningrad University.
Was active in the print media and TV of the Vologda region.
Since 1986 active in the Central TV.
Made several video films.
1990-1991: author of the Namedni cycle (ATV).
1991-1993: author of the cycle "A portrait against the background" (Ostankino).
Since the NTV company was founded, he has been the author and host of the Namedni program (weekly non-political news).
Was awarded with prizes of the Journalists' Union, Russian and international TV festivals, many professional competitions.

Artist - Elena Kitayeva

Marat Guelman

The motto of the project:
It is high time for Russia to have decent money to represent a genuine attribute of statesmanship. A modern artist is not committed to the state any more. However, this does not mean he lacks any patriotic feelings. Money (bank notes) is one of the most powerful means which are wholly in the hand of the state to run the country. The essence of the project is based on the concept that a means presupposes the form of presenting the national idea. The state has the power to make people get in touch with itself many times daily only through placing itself on the face of bank notes.

Excerpts from the catalog.

Yekaterna Dyogot
A significant contribution of the Russia culture to the money
At the sight of new money, one may breathe with a relief: it is nice to see that the country is nor represented with politicians and top brass (what could cause diplomatic problems), but with peaceful cultural figures. It is pleasant that critical situations have been avoided, as the topic of the last war is not presented in an indecent cheerful mood, but in the blue one - departure of volunteers for the front-line (as an illustration of the Seventh Symphony by Shostakovich). And on the whole, new money notes look as if we have used them all our life. They may well be seen as an expression of popular will brilliantly conveyed by the authors.

Manuscript - Picture - Photomontage
The design of old Soviet money had the medieval character (Slavic pattern and bizarre ornament). An ancient manuscript served as an example for imitation: the Lenin picture was put into an oval and "pasted" on paper. Other topics also displayed self-restraint and reserve. Thence, correlations produced by the bank notes - the Faceted Chamber, the Covetous Knight's chests. The design of these bank notes was static and in fact extra-economic. These notes show that culture appreciates highly treasures, hand-made uniqueness, but underestimates the total perviousness, openness and exchange.
A monetary note according to the latest vogue (e.g. recent Swiss, French, Dutch bonds) does not bear anything medieval, as their type font is simple, without any vignettes, whereas designs meet freely and intertwine as if on the computer monitor in the global communication space. It is the latter rather than static treasures that modern money symbolizes. A person is placed in the infinite field of information. A note cannot be forged not very much because it is unique, but rather because it is made with high technology. The pattern is transformed into a bit-map picture. It is this model that was taken by Yelena Kitayeva as a basis, so that even a picture of Pushkin by Kiprensky looks on her notes quite up-to-date. The very syntax of a bank note is up-to-date.
Makers of previous notes have also tried to get rid of the medieval influence and Slavic pattern. The latter motifs have been replaced with naturalistic painting in the 1993 and 1995 bank notes. A share of landscape has been expanding in the notes from 1993 to 1995. This means that the three-dimensional space takes over and destroys the flatness of a note. Bank notes have gained deepness and reality. It goes without saying that this was not a simple stylistic move: our current bank notes respond (be it somewhat late) to the public demand for restoring the truth and overcoming the flatness. The truth has demanded realism.
Today has seen the total disillusion with the idea of the truth as refusal from the past Soviet myth. Culture has turned round to create a new myth. Instead of the flatness of a medieval manuscript, new bank notes bear a flatness of modern photo montage, a newspaper, the TV screen, where the new myth is created, being formed from faces and names, as always. Money of 1993-1995 was "landscape-related". By the way, their faces correspond to the program of renaming Moscow streets which has deleted from the map of Moscow nearly all historic names, but returned the names of former land-owners, which are therefore absolutely natural: Nizhny (Lower) so-and-so street, Sredny (Middle) so-and-so street. This topography is becoming contradictory even now to the concept of a new myth making, so that it will be probably made up for by massive construction and erection of monuments to return the names to the streets of the city.

Faces of a new Russia, or persons take a decision
Leonid Parfyonov, who cannot take responsibility for a decision of carrying out or not the money reform, writes that in any case zeros may be returned to the bank notes designed by him. I, for one, am in doubt, as in their spirit the new money reject inflation and imply stability and significance. We are facing the money backed by our real gold reserve, eternal values of Russian culture.
Many countries of the world put pictures of culture figures on their money. However, it is difficult to compare the project of new Russian money with French or Swiss monies. Both countries have rejected the idea of a national Pantheon. The French (in their new series of bank notes) have restricted themselves with the 20th century and shown persons who are largely international figures, as they symbolize technology which is always global: The Lumier brothers, Gustav Eiffel, the Curie family, Saint-Exupery (he is shown against a map of the world). The Swiss display representatives of different cantons (sometimes, they are relatively little known, as e.g. the woman painter Sophie Trauber).
Russia, however, would like to represent all. The idea of Parfyonov's project consists in creation of publicly legitimized national list of the really very important people. To achieve this aim, one had to get more people placed on the money, so that two persons were put on a bank note. This creates an interesting effect of a tip-up seat, as a note always has both a obverse and reverse sides. Tolstoy is supplemented with not so indisputable Dostoyevsky, Repin, with the avant-gardist Malevich, Tchaikovsky. These transparent sutures are probably not so bad, as one sees the history of forming a Pantheon from the old school curriculum and the new TV. Whatever is shown on bank notes, the place of this or that country is determined by its economic level, first of all. The problem of Russia, however, consists in the fact that she does not have a place of its own in the economic community so far, whereas she is not indifferent to its identity. Therefore, "geographic" money of 1995 is looked upon by many people as not representative enough: it is too trivial to put landscapes of Russia on the notes. However, sometimes, geography is a resolution of a problem: it takes off the urgent will to find one's face. Geography implies vicinity, closeness, equality. Geography is international by definition and decentralized, what is so important for Russia concentrated on Moscow. This would be a simple and new for Russia decision of the aching problem in her essence.
The project of new money corresponds to the public consciousness which is now in the process of looking for Russia in her culture, just like it used to be in early 19th century. Hence, we face the problems characteristic for the 19th century, e.g. Russia and the West (nearly all the heroes chosen for a new Pantheon are forced to demonstrate either the idea of Russia of their own, as, Gogol, or the idea of victory over the West, as Alekhine). Or the problems of nationalism - the ethnic side of the heroes of the new money is too marked in the cultural sense to be left unnoticed (the mythical half-Jewery of Repin and the Ukrainian soul of Gogol are not counted). Despite the technological exterior, the image of the absolute and unchangeable treasure in the project of the new money still prevails, but this is a cultural and national treasure. This kind of money bears too much symbolism in it to be a normal factor of economics, just as it is in modern Russia with its irrational and absolutely non-economic prices. The authors have followed attentively the symbolic side of the new bank notes, trying to be equitable. They have managed to achieve this, as the list arouses few objections (if not to mention the ethnic purity). One may, however, doubt the very idea of compiling a list. Probably, it would be better for Russia to forget for a while not only her political leaders and war generals, but also her persons of genius and her cultural symbols. They imply an allure of totalitarianism, which should be borne in mind by Russia, as by a patient aggravated by a risk of recurrence. Probably, it would be better to see on the bank notes unexpected faces, such as those Khlebnikov or Mandelshtamm, the Archpriest Avvakum or Daniil Kharms. Russia will be a civilized country only when she provides a space also for those cultural phenomena which do not symbolize her grandeur and priority.

New money

Leonid Parfyonov
This text was prepared for the special journal Dengi (Money) as an attempt to combine styles of both an article for a catalog and a report to the Staraya Ploshchad offices (the tradition is meant, not the post address). And to combine the notions of a "project" as an artistic performance and a "project" as a proposal, in relation to which a decision was made to take it as a basis.
For the first time, the project was mentioned two years ago in a commentary of the Namedni program in occasion with introduction of new ten-thousand bank notes of a new design. Those ten-thousand bank notes have become obsolete by now, which is an additional argument for the project.

I

The sight of our money does not appeal to anybody. The commonest appraisals vary from a hesitating "somewhat frivolous view" to the categorical "just candy wrappers" with speaking well of the Soviet bank notes which looked true. An attempt to repeat their visual track on the bank notes of 1993 turned out a pitiful imitation. In general, the sights of the Kremlin on bank notes are too closely connected with the image of the USSR to be used in near future as the main Russian symbols. Even more unhappy seem to be the sights of the rocks and hydro electric stations on the bank notes of 1995. Besides, they represent again the plucked two-headed eagle (a half-measure of the time when a substitute for the sickle-and-hammer emblem was looked for), even if this may be looked at as an emblem of the Central Bank (?!), this emblem cannot be profanation of the official state coat-of-arms. The parallel existence of two samples of all thousand-something bank notes leads to a confusion in settling accounts. Russian bank notes are unrecognizable; in the common use are the coins of the face value of ten-ruble and even ruble, whose real value is equal nowadays to the one-thousandth part of the Soviet kopeck. The necessity of regulating the system of bank notes is so obvious that the present chaos seems sometimes to be arranged on purpose before any cardinal measures are taken. As previous experiences show, the most probable are either the Khrushchev-like denominations (erasing the zeroes, probably three of them), or the Pavlov-and-Gerashchenko exchange pattern (cancellation of the circulation of the relatively old bank notes with a fixed-date replacement for relatively new ones). In the second case, cancellation of all current metallic coins as superfluous seems well-based with transformation into coins of one-hundred, two-hundred and five-hundred-ruble notes.
However, this or that kind of reform (or refusal from any) does not suppress the task of creating new Russian bank notes which can pretend to rest for a long time in circulation.
The main factor which contributes to the project's importance is realizing by Russia of her new sovereignty-mindedness. The relative stability of the ruble and its transformation into te nearly convertible hard currency, i.e. genuine money, are among the sources of current feeling of national pride. With the beginning of the ruble quotations on the stock-exchanges of Poland and Finland, the Russian currency starts its way out into the international arena. It is high time Russia had decent money which is an attribute of the statesmanship.

The New Money project presupposes
with retention of the current size of the main thousand-value bank notes (100 by 65 mm; the Soviet ones were considerably smaller, 100 by 50 mm)
and with restoration of the easily recognizable colors which have become traditional of the Soviet bank notes of the 1961 emission,
creation of the samples of new paper bank notes with pictures of great Russians.

II

The Russian bank notes have been printed with pictures of persons practically during all their history. The same principle is adhered to while printing bank notes of the main currencies of the world. Significant is the case of the French franc of the last issue (1933-1994), with its affectionate attitude to national Pantheon reminding that of Russia: Ffr20 - Debussy, Ffr50 - Exupery, Ffr100 - Delacroix, Ffr200 - Montesquieu (since 1996 - Eiffel), Ffr500 - the Curie family.
The same row (authors, composers, artists, research workers) are on the Deutsche Marks, Swiss francs, Italian lira. The portraits of political figures on the bank notes of liberal countries are put very seldom. Exception: US dollars (Founding Fathers and Lincoln), probably to illustrate the well-known concept that this state has always been equal to itself. Other countries are right in judging the statesmen as not being too indisputable figures to be represented on money which incorporates the universal principle of the general equivalent. This aspect is also related to the violent Russian history.
The other exception is explained by the other reason. On the one hand, bank notes of a number of countries (constitutional monarchies) bear pictures of the living Their Majesties - the absolute symbols loved by everybody, whose activities are indisputable because of their titularity. The British pounds of all bank notes bear Elizabeth on one side, whereas the other side bears Dickens from the authors, Faraday from the researchers, etc. It is evident that Russian rubles should bear two portraits each. The Russian Pantheon is great. There is a tradition of the country with the greatest number of readers, with humanitarian priorities of long standing, and with a special attitude to the spiritual values. Besides, there are authoritative figures which have appeared under the Soviet power and those who only now are taking the deserved places. It is also necessary to take into consideration the fact that the presumed lists of the great Russians contain different names in the Russian and Western public minds.
If taken seriously, it is worthwhile to consider all these circumstances, so that it becomes impossible to be content with five or six persons. Because of the classic character of the universal high-school education, any speculations on te topic of "Who deserves" begin with "the money should bear, first of all, Pushkin and Tolstoy, as one cannot go without them". And this is already a half of the six-member list. The literary couples are unavoidably deemed to be two. In general, it is worthwhile to follow the principle of the branches, as in addition to te logic of selecting couples, this principle gives a feeling of exhaustible stock-taking, because all main spheres of the human activities are reflected.
It goes without saying that the most canonical portraits of the persons are used. The corresponding background illustrates the essential Russian phenomena. The modern technology imitates the technique of steel-plate engraving: hairs, large bit-map, etc.
While selecting the list, the denomination and the return to the structure of paper money of the Soviet period were taken into consideration.
If, however, the current scale (all bank notes are thousands) is retained, there can be five (as now) or six kinds of bank notes with the use of the same traditional colors (if the two-hundred-thousand bank note is put into circulation, as a reserve for inflation, because even now it is worthwhile to have a bank note which is equal to $35).
It seems that the topics to serve the basis for the pictures in the bank notes enclose te diversity of the varying expressions of the Russianhood: both capitals, the Volga, the Great Patriotic war, the provinces, avant-garde, vodka, ballet, space.
The choice of a number of persons needs to be explained. Gogol, among other things, as a Russian classic author of te Ukrainian background, is a symbol of two peoples - the Siamese twins. Mendeleev, as opposed to the chief researcher Lomonosov, is a possessor of the indisputable priority. His periodic system serves as the unique chemical classificatory means. Besides, it is alluring to reflect the most important applied discovery of Mendeleev - the optimum strength of 40 degrees, as a marking sign while producing vodka in any country. The Soviet period is represented widely with absolutely indisputable figures: Shostakovich, as the most performed composer of the 20th century; Gagarin, as the popular hero and the world pioneer; the great ballerina Ulanova; Yashin, as the best goal-keeper in the history of soccer, who is constantly included in the symbolic team of "all the times and nations". The reverse side of the "sportive bank note" is dedicated to another popular game - chess, in which both the USSR and Russia have been the leaders for the last half of the century. Alexander Alekhine is the only World Chess Champion who has been never defeated, one of two chess players (the second is Capablanca who was defeated by him), who are usually called men of a genius. Alekhine and Chaliapin also represent the Russian diaspora.
Malevich, the father of the Russian and world avant-garde, who has changed with his "Black square" all the consequent development of the art, may seem the most discussible person. However, first, he is in part balanced by Repin, who has become the classic Russian artist. Secondly, reduction of the Russian art to realism only (e.g., if the second on the bank note were Surikov, or Levitan, or Perov, etc) would be a vulgarization even for the money. Thirdly, one should not exaggerate the risk of a possible hedging: during the last years the mass media have acquainted even the public at large to the existence of the art in which "everything is not true to life". Fourth, it is worthwhile to return to the initial task.
Do we realize a modern project (1997) or do we wish to realize the commonest ideas "who must be present"? But these will be the ideas of the Soviet mass consciousness. The resulting list will be not even a classic one, but from the textbook "Rodnaya Rech" (an ABC). It is the simplest thing: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Repin, Tchaikovsky, Gagarin. Then, from the geopolitical grounds, let us insert Gogol, making him again a "Politburo member". There is no whole Russian mass idea as yet. It is only in the process of the initial phase and forming, including in the form of the future bank notes. The post-Soviet list of obligatory classics also depends on the latter. One more paraphrase should be added to traditional variations: a bank note in Russia is more than a bank note.

Print media on the project

The new money
Leonid Parfyionov, Dengi, #32 (92)

The relative stability of the ruble and its transformation into te nearly convertible hard currency, i.e. genuine money, are among the sources of current feeling of national pride. With the beginning of the ruble quotations on the stock-exchanges of Poland and Finland, the Russian currency starts its way out into the international arena. It is high time Russia had decent money which is an attribute of the statesmanship. Money (bank notes) is one of the most powerful means which are wholly in the hand of the state to run the country. We are sure that the form of presenting the national idea should correspond the instruments with whose help it is to be conferred to everybody.

They are already at hand
M.Guelman, Dengi, #33 (93)

Money (bank notes) is one of the most powerful means which are wholly in the hand of the state to run the country. The essence of the project is based on the concept that a means presupposes the form of presenting the national idea. The state has the power to make people get in touch with itself many times daily only through placing itself on the face of bank notes.
A modern artist is not committed to the state any more. However, this does not mean he lacks any patriotic feelings.

How do you like the new money?
Dengi, #34 (94)

Russian patriots will be able at last to be proud also of the new sight of the new bank notes: according to the information leaked from the Federal Security Service, the place of grey-khaki-green cities will be occupied by figures of the Russian culture: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Malevich, Repin.

Irina Antonova, director of the Pushkin State Fine Arts Museum
From the speech at the presentation of the Novye dengi (New Money) project in the Savoy Hotel

"I reckon that the project is very much Russian. This could be initiated only by idealists: to create new money during the period when the old money is not enough for anybody. I see in this fact a huge example of optimism to be understood by nobody, and a hope that everything will be OK. In fact, if there is not enough bread, why not take cakes instead? From the artistic point of view, this all seems to me very successful..."

A talk with the poet on the tax inspection
Dmitry Lyudmirsky, Dengi, #39 (99)

Money with a human face
Marina Koldobskaya, Novoye Vremya, #52, 1996

Computers for designing
PC Week, #1 (75)
... The gallery has shown a project of new bank notes...

Pravda, #124, December 15, 1996
The Marat Guelman gallery has presented a project New Money in the premises of the State Tretyakov Arts Gallery. The bank notes bear portraits of great Russians, the colors of the bank notes correspond those of the bank notes issued in 1961.

Money as blackmail on modern art
Fyodor Romer, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 19, 1996

Transformation of a text into elegant shorts
Vyacheslav Kuritsyn, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, December 19, 1996

Ghosts of all kind have begun to circle around
Valery Mildon, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 17.09.96

Money reform is to start in Russia
Victor Kuzmin, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 12.09.96

New money on the main things
Misha Lipman, Itogi, October 1, 1996

The New Money project realized by Mr Parfyonov together with the gallery-owner Marat Guelman and the artist Yelena Kitayeva constructs a national myth and style through "creating samples of new paper bank notes with pictures of great Russians".

Do not wait for new money, gentlemen!
Mikhail Berger, Izvestia, 14.09.96

Hints that have begun to circulate in mass media of the possibility of any version of money reform or an exchange of money for the new bank notes with smaller number of zeroes (denomination, to put it in simpler terms) have agitated not only rank-and-file citizens but also the Central Bank.

Keeping Gogol in store
Litsa, #5, November, 1996

Alexander Yakimovich
Neue bildende Kunst Chronik, February-March, 1/1997

Artists tout culture heroes as new face of cash
Julia Shargorodska, The Moscow Times, October 22, 1996

Redesigning the ruble
Konstantin Akinsha, Art News, November, 1996

A.Sokolyansky, Profil, #18, December, 1996

A Megapolis-Express observer is getting ready for an execution in the Red Square
Igor Dudinsky, Megapolis-Express, #36, 1996

The other day Parfyonov painted money
Roman Erdin, Komsomolskaya Pravda, 25.09.96

A significant contribution of the Russian culture into money
Yekaterina Dyogot, Kommercant-Daily, #154, 17.09.96

At the sight of new money, one may breathe with a relief: it is nice to see that the country is nor represented with politicians and top brass (what could cause diplomatic problems), but with peaceful cultural figures. It is pleasant that critical situations have been avoided, as the topic of the last war is not presented in an indecent cheerful mood, but in the blue one - departure of volunteers for the front-line (as an illustration of the Seventh Symphony by Shostakovich). And on the whole, new money notes look as if we have used them all our life. They may well be seen as an expression of popular will brilliantly conveyed by the authors.
Russia will be a civilized country only when she provides a space also for those cultural phenomena which do not symbolize her grandeur and priority.

What was on last week
Alexander Timofeyevsky, Kommercant-Daily, #153

The main cultural event of the week... to be presented by Marat Guelman... The event itself was made public by the Dengi magazine, having printed a manifesto by Leonid Parfyonov on the attributes of new bank notes designed by him. The artist Yelena Kitayeva has represented Tchaikovsky with Shostakovich, Mendeleev with Gagarin, Alekhine with Yashin, Ulanova with Chaliapin, Pushkin with Gogol, Tolstoy with Dostoyevsky on two sides of seven new bank notes denominated by a thousand times.

Commercant-Daily, #180, 23.10.96
...French bank notes served as a source of inspiration for the TV host Leonid Parfyonov and artist Yelena Kitayeva who have presented their project of Russian bank notes with portraits of great figures of the Russian culture.

Take away Pushkin from money
Commercant-Daily, #153, 14.09.96

Artists' sketches are not a reason for denomination
Commercant-Daily, #153

A bank note in Russia is more than a bank note
Irina Petrovskaya, Izvestia, September 14, 1996

The popular TV host Leonid Parfyonov has invented... new money. Perspicacious observers from some print media were not long in hinting that this fact seems to confirm talks that Russia is waiting for the coming money reform with denomination (erasing of the zeroes) of the Russian currency.

Money designers
Natalya Selivanova, Kultura, September 21, 1996

For citizens of Russia to have something to do with bank notes which have legalized both intellectual and personal contributions into the country's prestige is no other thing as a moment of committal to the national history and authorization of the symbols of even personal pride of the fatherland without irony and the inverted commas. Besides, Guelman is sure that introduction of new bank notes will contribute to a sooner transformation of our ruble into a convertible currency: "A nice bank note rises the face value".

Dictatorship of triviality
Zavtra, #40 (148)

Russie: le ruble lourd jete le trouble
E.D.Chikoff, Figaro, 1.10.96

The inferior layers cannot pay with the old ones
Alexander Morozov, Moskovsky Komsomolets, 14.09.96

New currency sports historic figures, fewer zeros
Karl Emerick Hanuska, The Moscow Tribune, September 13, 1996



12.12.1996
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