The AGGRAVURE series by Baptiste Debombourg is a set of three incredibly stunning staple murals comprised of approximately half a million of the metal tackers. Though Baptiste describes the title of the piece as being derived from the aggression inherent both in renaissance engraving subjects and in the act of stapling, I choose to view it as the aggravation of placing flimsy, pointy metal bits into anything resembling anything. Though I realize the twisted, stacked staples are to create texture and depth (and likely have some deeper artistic meaning), I can’t help but imagine the artist screaming in rage as his stapler jammed over and over again, or every time he crushed his own thumb and dislodged fifty staples for the sake of one.
AGGRAVURE: Pounding Out Art With 500,000 Staple Murals
These intense metal portraits are centered around Icarus mythology; each strikingly depicts muscular men tumbling out of the sky. Besides perfectly recreating the movement and aesthetic sensibilities we’ve come to associate with renaissance engravings, you do actually get a sense of aggression and barely reined violence in the images- which isn’t too far a stretch if we all subscribe to my vision of a tortured artist who is spiraling into dark fury because he keeps stepping on staples and breaking his Swinglines. Debombourg unfortunately never offers comment about whether his staple murals actually caused him any long standing mental issues or became the bane of his existence, and while it is a relatable fantasy, the truth is that the man must be a paragon of patience. Over the course of the three AGGRAVURE works, he clocked almost 550 hours of …stapling. Obviously, he had to do a bunch of designing, transcribing, tweaking and climbing around, but the truth of the matter is that he still had to punch the handle of a stapler 500,000 times, and that’s generously not accounting for any staples that fell out, didn’t take, or had to be redone. It almost makes you want to burn down a building, don’t you think? Here’s to hoping no one ever tries to stop him from creating art… or to take his stapler.