art is not a mirror for society, but a hammer with which to shape it.

- Vladimir Mayakovski

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Inflatables are tools for imagining new possibilities, and learning from old ones. We like to give context on the history inflatables as instruments of propaganda and create space for dreaming how they can connect to contemporary political issues and cross conventional (aesthetic) boundaries. Whether as a thought provocation, a choreographic element, or a mobile barricade, these collective inventions are filled with tactical frivolity and the power of poetry.

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Building inflatables is group work. During hands-on workshops, participants work together to learn how to fabricate inflatable sculptures – and build strong friendships in the process. Our learning-centered spaces become supportive, convivial environments where participants can openly talk about issues of discrimination, reflect on the kind society we (want to) live in, and imagine potentials for social change. By building inflatables together, we create new ways to live, function, and relate.

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Expanding social movements by inflating our sculptures. Blown up within minutes from a formless piece of plastic, inflatables are huge props for visibility. Stretching across roads and intersections, their glittering metallic surfaces and surreal weightless forms captivate the eyes of the public and media. In the battle of the spectacle, inflatables are tactical tools for conveying messages and engaging more people in social movements.

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Sous la plave, la plage! (Under the pavement, the beach!) The street is our playground!
We bring inflatables into public spaces to make tactical interventions, and show that political action can be engaging, aesthetic and fun! Stacking 5 meters high and 30-meters across, a mirror barricade at the largest neo-Nazi march in Germany was used to literally hold up a mirror to extreme-right marchers. To the surprise of contestants, judges and spectators, a pop-up rainbow arched over the Vis Swimming Competition during an LGBTIQ intervention. A 20-meter inflatable saw, the Russian symbol for corruption, sawed through the streets of Moscow. When police in Barcelona found themselves in a game of volleyball with protesters, they attempted to arrest the inflatable cobblestone.

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Founded by Artúr van Balen in 2012, Tools for Action quickly became a network of artists and activists giving skill-share workshops in the manufacture of inflatable sculptures and how to use them for political actions.


The core ensemble now includes Artúr van Balen, Katherine Ball and Malcolm Kratz. Their practice focuses on educational programs and how to engage future generations in political action. Crossing conventional aesthetic and political boundaries, they are experimenting with theories of crowd movement and emergence intelligence. Their current research explores if the contemporary rise in right-wing populism is comparable to the 1930s rise of fascism.


"Barricade Ballet" was a direct action training on the 29th of may 2016 in Dortmund, when Dortmunder citizens trained how to use the inflatable "mirror barricade" to protest a neo-Nazi march on the 4th of June in their city. The ground footage is about the actual counter-protests on the 4th of june 2016.

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