A graffiti artist known as "the Decapitator" with a penchant for replacing ordinary poster images with a beheaded replacement has begun a reign of terror on New York City streets.
The anonymous artist has a flickr pool displaying the multitude of decapitations.
The latest victim, Shakira on the Rolling Stone cover poster, has been vandalized around the city and even on the actual magazine cover in newsstands. The decapitator plasters on a perfectly detailed image on top of the advertisements. The replacement often creates a disturbing image including blood splatter on the surroundings and putting the lone headless victim in a group of others cheering and smiling.
I would give this graffiti artist some credit for making waves in the mainstream media, (there was an article in Wired about the artist's work in London) but the decapitator's portrayal lacks the subtlety of say Banksy, obey, or Neck Face. While these new pieces may give the other talented, socially motivated, graffiti artists in the city a run, the decapitator seems to be more of a one-trick-pony along the lines of the splasher, the lame “artist” who threw buckets of paint on other graffiti artist’s work.
Words and Pictures (a webcomic), makes a fair point as well, while the decapitator had been hard at work in London tagging many clothing and movie posters, the headless characters have predominantly been female models. There have been exceptions, including Daft Punk, the UFC fighter Shamrock, or a chicken, but overall there is a certain misogynistic feel to the work. (Although there is no physical proof that it is even a male perpetrator.)
I’m certainly all for the culture-jamming movement, and guerrilla subvertising can sometimes show the absurdity of a media saturated world. But to convey a message, often one just needs satire and humor, not necessarily violence. Still, it’s a better outlet than having another Jack the Ripper roam the streets.