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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kimberly Capehart at 11:53AM   |  6 comments
An example of one of the project's billboards.

Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey 

A series of controversial billboards recently caught the attention of passerbys in Syracuse, New York. 

A part of FLEFF’s Distributed Microtopias Exhibition, Art is Atrocity is the latest project from upstate digital artist Samantha Raut. The project uses satire to focus on the issue of fine arts programs being cut from the Syracuse school system due to recent budget cuts.

Raut utilized billboards around the city to capture the attention of everyday people. Each bland, white billboard states “Art is Atrocity” in a standard serif font, followed by a link to the project’s website.

Upon visiting this website, users find themselves on a homepage that reminds me of the good ol’ Windows 97 days. Through exploration of the drab, archaic-looking site users can read all about director (and Samantha Raut's alias) Samuel Ruta's mission to inform the people of Syracuse about the need to remove fine art education from the local school system. Or at least it seems that way.

Guised by it’s satirical web design, the site actually provides a link to a page that reveals the truth behind the project. The aesthetics of the project, from the billboards to the website are purposely "horrendous" as Raut puts it, in order to "get people thinking about how valuable art and music is to us as a whole." 

I'm a big fan of Raut's ironic usage of crude aesthetics in the project, and I think it serves well as an attention grabber and a conversation starter. Judging by the "responses" page of the website, the project has definitely sparked many responses from both angry art education-supporters who misunderstood the project as well as praise from those who understood and appreciated Raut's unique approach to presenting the issue.

Check back soon for coverage of my interview with the artist herself! Have you or anyone you know seen any of the project's billboards? 


Although I have never seen this myself, I think it's a great idea!

Art is powerful - it has the ability to move people. When it is used in a rather unconventionally ironic way, it generates controversy. Perhaps this is the whole point of art in the first place?

But then again we are prone to falling into the cyclical vortex of the ultimate question: "what is art?"

Kimberly--Nice blog with good detail...what do you think is the impact of this strategy of Raut's to blur the borders between right wing antagonism towards arts funding, art, activism, billboards, intervention into public space, and irony?

Wow - awesome post (and great title)! Drew me in right away - and what a great concept!

Great post! Sounds like a great exhibit!

I love the concept of using "poor" designed to point out the importance of arts education in U.S. public schools. Brilliant!

OOPS: "design" not "designed" and this wasn't even an auto-correct error...

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