Money, it is argued, is the world’s true religion – and that is the theme one Ukrainian artist is grappling with. In his ‘St. Franklin’ series, Yurko Dyachyshyn has hand-crafted what look like Orthodox Christian icons, but on closer inspection collages that incorporate Benjamin Franklin, the face on the 100 U.S. dollar bill. Christian icons, but on closer inspection collages that incorporate Benjamin Franklin, the face on the 100 dollar bill.
What sparked your inter- est in Benjamin Franklin as a “saint”?
This idea crossed my mind when the national currency of Ukraine hryvnia (UAH) had plunged in value and all the news covered its exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. Dollars were indeed hard to buy it, monetary panic had intensified and the currency issue touched practically everyone. People figuratively prayed to the dollar and euro. That’s why I decided that it is high time to make a project that would later become known as “Saint Franklin”.
But why not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, more famous figures who grace dollar bank notes?
For the post-Soviet space, and for Ukraine in particular, a hundred-dollar bill has always been a symbol of wealth, prosperity, measure of payments and a pattern of material hap- piness.
What is your process behind these collages?
All these works are handmade using sacred Ortho- dox icons and hundred dollar bills (real and souvenir).
What is the artistic message in this series?
This is just another example of visualization of materialism. The cult of St. Franklin worship is extend- ed in different manifestations and forms around the globe. “Saint Franklin” may have different semblances and may change depend- ing on time and location, embodying the actual visual form for a specific period and space – it could be dollar, euro, yen, gold, diamonds, Ferrari, etc. It may have different names, but all this is the cult of St. Franklin. I often joke that I’m going to establish a new religion of “St Franklin followers”