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ARC 2018- You Gotta Be Here to Understand It

Ábrahám Vass 2018.10.02.

The title of this year’s 18th ARC billboard exhibition is ‘Unfake!’ with fake news, unveiling lies and discovering the truth at its focus. While the event generates controversy every year, it also gives space to a number of genuine and creative ideas.

Up until this year’s edition, the exhibition – started in 2000 with the aim of refreshing the national promotion culture of using public billboards – is held in Ötvenhatosok Square (close to Hősök Tere [Heroes’ Square]). However, this year Budapest’s council, justifying it with the Liget project and underground garage construction, didn’t allow the exhibitions to be held there. Some suspected the growing govt-criticism of ARC might have played a role in the decision – but this hasn’t been confirmed.

However, following further discussions, Zugló’s local government – led by the Socialists – gave organizers the green light. The new location, a long and narrow green area in between rows of residential houses 300 meters from public transport hub, Örs Vezér Tér, has lent an intimate, cozy atmosphere to the exhibition. Unfortunately, being less central and thus less accessible, the space was too tight and limited to enjoy the billboards fully.

According to the organizers, some 1,000 works were submitted. The billboards are often a source of contention, dividing spectators; here we tried to highlight the most iconic submissions. (To view the billboards in their entirety, click here)

In accordance with this year’s theme, the main topic is fake news in politics and social media alike.

This is fancyboy27. Fancyboy27 doesn’t believe that you can lengthen your penis by 7 cms using a special method, learn 5 foreign languages in just 20 minutes with a widget, that you can get rid of your fat pads in 2 days with a detergent invented by British scholars, that every single mother within 5 km wants to sleep with you, or that, with an unusual step, you can double your wealth. Despite this, his job is to make you believe what he doesn’t. Via

Shopping mall. Via

The faked filling of potholes, which is very frequent in Hungary. Via

In addition to the current main theme, applicants could compete using any of the previous years’ topics. Environmental and social (domestic violence) issues and challenges are trendy every year.

Finding (things in) Nemo(‘s belly). Via

They told me at home that today I’m allowed to go to kindergarten in this one. Via

Another reality, migration, was also a popular topic among the competitors. This powerful billboard referred to one of the most tragic cases of the migration crisis:

With a bit of good will we can find a place for everyone. Via

The billboard below criticizes Hungary and other countries for simultaneously touting Christian roots while also maintaining harsh stances against migration and refugees:

Christian culture is in danger. Via

The very best of the politically themed submissions – which was also awarded the first prize – referred to Hungary’s no. 1. enemy (billionaire George Soros) in the govt’s communication:


The Fidesz government’s alleged scandals are always included in the works. The controversial Swedish hunting trip of deputy PM Zsolt Semjén appeared in three different submissions:


This uses and parodies the slogan of a recent tourism campaign by placing it in the context of the notorious 8th district, referring to the “hidden face” of Hungary:

You gotta be here to believe it. Via

The Fidesz government puts a special emphasis – in communication and financial support alike – on family policy by encouraging the population to have children. This was criticized by a number of billboards, among them was the winner of the second prize:

Competition. Via

Emigration from Hungary was also of interest to the competitors.

On a ballot paper similar to the one used in the April 8 elections, you could vote on the most wanted skill currently in short supply. Via

The exhibition closes on the 7th of October and is free of charge.

Image: Hungary Today

featured image: Hungary Today