Cutting advertising down to size


Originally uploaded by the decapitator

An anonymous artist is currently roaming the streets of London and defacing adverts by eerily removing the images of heads from posters and replacing them with gory stumps. The East London Decapitator seems to work by capturing the unadulterated images from poster advertisements, then returning home to remove their heads on a computer before revisiting the site to paste over the original image with that of the beheaded rendering. The work is not perfect, but from a distance its difficult to see that the advertisement is not as originally intended. It is, instead, a rather shocking and blood-spattered form of culture jamming. Various posters have fallen under the knife, including this fly-poster for Mulletover, the Shoreditch warehouse party.This, as my friend David Cano points out, reminds of the early Adbusters, as well as a long tradition of graffiti artists who have long defaced commercial advertisements. There can be a variety of motives for defacing adverts: environmental; politics (in this case a witty piece of anti-capitalism); or the purely purile.