A hot weekend at the beach became the instigator for graphic artist, Giuseppe Pepe’s runaway success Instagram project, Loosing my Mind, wherein he features photos of people in various poses, performing various acts, in various places around the world, but all with a single common element. No head. “I was on the beach in Ibiza and the song “Where’s Your Head At” by Basement Jaxx started playing as I was watching a group of guys taking selfies while using a mirror to hide their faces and reflect the sun,” Giuseppe tells us. The combination struck a chord and Giuseppe took to his computer to combine his “imagination, creativity and a few software applications,” and #LoosingMyMind was born.
“I never expected that it was going to have such incredible success,” he says. Giuseppe posted the first experimental photo of the idea in September 2014—a photo of himself wearing a denim baseball cap, jeans, vest and white tee sans head—and ever since he officially began the project in November of the same year, he has amassed a nearly 95K Instagram following and up to 783k Likes on a single post. He also receives countless emails, messages and comments daily from people all over the world, both congratulating him on the idea as well as inquiring as to how they can be a part of this project. “When I receive these requests, both from famous igers as well as simple users from far off places, say, from Japan or Mexico… it always gives me goose bumps.”
He admits that he’s lost count of how many people from around the world have participated in #LosingMyMind with photo submissions up till now: from the feedback he’s received however he notes that one of the things that most surprises him is how people are so enthralled by the “truth” reflected in the project, that they seem to forget that it’s just “pure photo manipulation.”
When we ask him about his own description of #LoosingMyMind as an “anti-beauty” project, Giuseppe confides that this is because #LoosingMyMind was in part created as his personal stance against this era that we live in where everything is fake and designed to be noticed. “Since the head is the primary part of our beauty, I decided to create a project that reflected the secondary part (subjects’ bodies) instead; to represent the beauty of the picture, but without the head.” This is something that certainly challenges viewer’s perspectives. “I think that people are curious to see what we could look like without our heads, because our heads are what make us unique and different from everyone else,” he shares.
A scroll through his Instagram feed reveals a surprising observation: the physical stances of the subject’s bodies are able to perfectly reflect emotions without offering any views of the subject’s faces which is indeed fascinating because we are so programmed to search people’s facial features for emotional clues, such as upturned lips, or furrowed brows. Therefore meaning is evident in a body leaping between two benches as nothing other than euphoric, just as a body resting on the ground seems relaxed.
When asked if his manipulated images force viewers to take a closer look and in so doing affords them with the chance to really see, Giuseppe believes that: “We give so much value to the physical and the aesthetic that we lose sight of what is pure and deep.” His viewpoint has resonated with his worldwide audience and a fair share of admiring copycats. “I’m constantly tagged by other users who have published selfies with ‘decapitated’ bodies, and that fills me with pride,” he says emotionally. “It used to make me nervous when I would come across posters or communication materials that were clearly inspired by my project, but now it just makes me pleased.”
When asked what the future holds for #LoosingMyMind, Giuseppe hopes to see it featured in a museum or gallery someday. For now however, he’s going to continue giving people what they want—decapitating images in photographs. “I’m inspired by everyday life,” he says. “From anything that triggers the desire of a thought in me!”
Thankfully, this artist has got a good head on his shoulders.