Cool currency portraits

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March 07, 2013
Cool currency portraits.

If world leaders were more like-minded, perhaps the elusive goal of world peace might be more attainable. But while international harmony remains a utopian dream for now, French photographer Philippe Petremant is doing his part to inch us closer. In his series 'The Magnificent Seven', the Lyon-based artist helps political figures past and present share — quite literally — a single head.

By creatively folding and paper-clipping together a slew of different banknotes, Petremant forms quirky portraits of leaders from across the globe. Portraits include Che Guevara dressed smartly in a suit and tie and Chairman Mao decked out in a cowboy hat and handlebar moustache. Queen Elizabeth II — the only female included — gets what is sure to be an unwelcome makeover when she dons former Singapore President Encik Yusof bin Ishak’s tiny chin and facial hair.

Obscure currencies turn certain pictures into a history lesson, especially in the case of Peruvian Admiral Miguel Grau — a famous Naval officer and military leader in The War of the Pacific — whose mutton-chop sideburns are prominent in one portrait conglomerate. Less recognizable is the forehead of a young Gambian girl, whose picture adorns the country’s 5 Dalasi note. Perhaps the most jarring of the series is an image of Mahatma Gandhi’s eyes on the face of Saddam Hussein, merging the admired peace-lover with a notorious mass murderer.

Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking, Petremant’s series embodies more than what initially meets the eye. But then again, the same could be said of most of the world’s greatest leaders — and maybe that’s the point.

Can you identify all of the portraits in this mashup? Who else deserves to be immortalised on a banknote? Let us know in the comments.

Stacey Kole

Stacey Kole is a freelance writer and former magazine editor. When she’s not crafting copy or chasing after her two little boys, Stacey can be found drinking coffee, tea, or anything else with caffeine. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

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