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

- Vladimir Mayakovski

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Tools

Head

Imagine

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.

Learn About Inflatable History

Hands

Assemble

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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Heart

Inflate

Claiming political space by inflating our sculptures in public space. 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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Feet

Connect

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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About

Past

Founded by Artúr van Balen in 2012, Tools for Action quickly became a network of artists, activists, tinkerers and theoreticians giving skill-share workshops in the manufacture of inflatable sculptures and how to use them for political actions. Our roots lie in climate activism. We gave shape to the protests of the international climate conference in Warsaw, 2013 with the cough4coal campaign. In 2016 Tools for Action led together with the Theater of Dortmund an action against neo-Nazis. In 2017, Tools for Action received together with the Theater of Dortmund the price for arts education of the Federal Government for Culture and the Media (BKM Preis für Kulturelle Bildung) for their project „Mirror Barricades“.

Present

The core ensemble now includes Artúr van Balen, Tomás Espinosa, Sarah Drain and Freya Schmidt. 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 new forms of assembly. Their current project “Signals, Resonating Revolutions” in collaboration with Kulturprojekte Berlin and the choreographers network Tänzer ohne Grenzen e.V. (dancers without borders) is a collective experiment in Berlin’s public space in celebration of the German revolution of 1918/19. For this occasion the artist group developed red, inflatable light-sculptures to be activated on Sunday, the 11th of November 2018. Join us for an experiment in resonating revolutions ! – Join the light bloc! #resonatingrevolutions

Future

Tools for Action´s current project “Signals, Resonating Revolutions”, which takes place in the context of the centenary of the German revolution of 1918|19 is inspired by the concept of resonances. How do we experience the resonances of past revolutions? What resonances do we want to create in society today?

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Videos of actions from 2012 -2018

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