Book Review: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon
By Isabella Weiss
Vincent Sardon is the stampographer. He is an unbiased misanthrope, a hater of high and low culture, of authority and indigence alike. His cynical eye exposes humanity in its vilest expression, in the midst of its crudest desires and most abominable expressions. Sardon’s particular antipathy for the snootiness of artists, the nation-state, and its constituent workers comes across in his art as satire rather than direct critique. Instead of condemning the violence, lewdness, and inequality that he sees in the world, Sardon provides these atrocities with a place to thrive in his work.
Sardon makes stamps from photographs of city parcels---a graffitied wall, a storefront, a fire escape, a water tower---and grafts them together into a believable composite. Cities are collages: they are composed of pieces that can be moved, replaced, or changed. This movement is often natural as it is also often authoritatively imposed. The “stampographer,” the artist, does the work of the sovereign by manipulating the city, adding, discluding, or expelling whatever he wishes. Sardon disparages authority by redirecting the aggression of the stamp, a symbol and tool of bureaucratic control, back towards the authoritative figure who created it and uses it. By playing the role of the gentrifying bureaucrat, Sardon disparages the artist as well, she who considers herself a “creator” of culture, he who feels rarefied by the culture he reflects.
Although it is a means of mechanical reproduction, the stamp records the slight idiosyncrasies of the hand that places it. Every piece Sardon makes with his stamps is both an original and a copy. His depictions of city streets and dynamically interacting human bodies are unique combinations of the same stamps, the same unchanging elements. The world he creates is composed of dividual, rather than individual, entities. It is capable of being divided and reconstructed without being changed in any essential way. By isolating the component pieces of things, Sardon equalizes them under his control. Stamps allow him to manipulate reality, rather than simply reflect it, as the photographs that his stamps are made from often do. “The stamp is never neutral,” says Sardon. The Stampographer is a tribute to this fact. It represents the flattening effect of biopolitical, neoliberal, and bureaucratic control on the populace, as well as the crudeness that spans and unites all levels of the political hierarchy of control. This book is a middle finger, a reproducible stain, directed at everyone.