An art project led by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Amplify London transforms Russian banknotes into a currency of hope for Ukrainians enduring the ravages of war.
Dubbed "Rubles for Ukraine," the initiative features more than 40 artists from around the world creating original works by defacing the bills. The tricked-out money will be sold next month as NFTs to aid families and refugees battling illness, homelessness and hunger as Russia's offensive rages on.
The creative team purchased a big batch of rubles—scarce in the West owing to sanctions—from a contact in Helsinki, who procured the cash in St. Petersburg. The cache consists mainly of 100s and 200s, with a few 500s and 1000s tossed in.
Using these rubles as their canvas, diverse artists from across the globe have begun altering the notes ahead of a July Kairos marketplace sale on the Solana network. An IRL gallery show is planned, allowing the NFT buyers to claim their matching physical artworks.
This video breaks it down:
And you can follow the project's progress at rublesforukraine.com, and on Twitter or Instagram.
"The project founders aren't of Russian or Ukrainian descent, but all have friends, relatives and co-workers from the area who we want to support," says GS&P senior creative Clemens Zlami, who spearheaded the initiative. "We have Ukrainian artists contributing to the project, and welcome their peers to join us."
Ace streetwear designer Benny Gold recruited many of the participants, while others "came from our industry contacts and friend groups. Our initial goal was for 10 artists, and that was blown away within about a day," Zlami says.
Check out Gold's contribution below, its stark anti-war message rendered with stencils of planes, doves and olive branches:
Notions of post-war unity inform this playfully poignant piece from Matthew Zaremba:
Ukraine's Alexey Romanowsky takes an ominous tack, boldly defacing a 200 ruble note in a disturbing twist on the Russian military code "Cargo 200," which refers to transporting battlefield fatalities:
And this effort from Brogla puts the whole campaign in perspective, with his vision of a better world overwhelming the ruble's dour design:
"Rubles for Ukraine" reminds us of the human cost of Russia's invasion. The project feels appropriately empowering and defiant, fusing art and commerce to assist the most vulnerable and desperate victims of the ongoing hostilities.
All proceeds will benefit CARE's Ukraine Fund, which provides folks in conflict areas with shelter, food and water, hygiene supplies, medicine and cash assistance.
Featured artists (so far):
Adam Hathorn | Alexey Romanowsky (Ukraine) | Alyasha Owerka-Moore | Andy Howell | Asspie | Benjie Escobar | Benny Gold | B. J. Betts | Bordalo II | Brolga | Bryce Wong | Burritobreath | Chris Delorenzo | Claw Money | Curtis Kulig | Dave Taylor | David Mascha | Deerjerk | Efdot | Fabio Benê | Growcase | Hannah Stouffer | HAZE | Holly Ellis | Indie 184 | Jeremy Dean | Jon Contino | Jonathan Faust | Joshua Vides | Ken Davis | Mary Joy Scott | Marylou Faure | Matthew Zaremba | Never Made | Rich Silverstein | Russ Pope | Sam Borghini | Sonni | Stash | Stevie Shao | Teng Yu | Todd Bratrud | Todd Francis | Todd King (a.k.a. Beefcake) | Yaroslav Shkriblyak (Ukraine)
"Rubles for Ukraine" creative team:
Clemens Zlami | Benny Gold | Jordan Dale | Laura Petrucelli | August Bjornberg | Brittany Ryley | Tena Goy