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.

Learn How To Build

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.

Read About Our Engagement

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.

Learn more about our actions

About

Past

Tools for Action explores the intersection between art and activism. Tools for Action acts as a platform for collaboration between artists, educators and activists. The group uses the production of inflatable sculptures as a community-building element and as a means for intervention. Tools for Action aims to practice alternative forms of social engagement and resistance and open the way for experimentation.

Tools for Action is founded in 2012 by the artist Artúr van Balen. In 2017, Tools for Action received the Award for Cultural Education of the Federal Ministry of Culture and the Media for the project Mirror Barricade together with Schauspiel Dortmund.

 

 

 

Present

 

The Stichting Tools for Action Foundation was founded in September 2019 in order to support the collaborative activities of Tools for Action artist group.

Tools for Action is directed by

Artúr van Balen (Creative director)

Shailoh Philips (Head of Research)

 

Research Agenda Tools for Action

The current activities of Tools for Action focus on generating space for rethinking our relationship to the past and the future. We are interested in tapping into historical narratives of resistance and contestation and finding ways of collective remembering and commemorating that do not fixate on a single dominant perspective. We focus on exploring and intervening in memory cultures, forgotten places and histories that need to be revisited, by creating site-specific interventions in contested urban space, such as squares, monuments, shrines. The research activities of Tools for Action will work in generating a deeper contextual understanding of such sites of contestation and reopening and activating layers of shared meaning connected to these places.

CONTEXTUAL EVALUATION

In the coming year, Tools For Action will work on evaluating past projects as we move forward. We will look at the following aspects of past interventions:

  • CONTEXT: what was the cultural and site-specific context, issues and fields of tension? Which histories and contested narratives were addressed? Who were the partners and participants and how did they relate to this context?
  • IMPACT: What was the residu, the aftermath, the effects on the short and long term of interventions? How did interventions circulate in public imagination, media and visual culture? Did any kind of shift occur in the participants or cultural discourse?
  • ACTION: what happened during the intervention? How were things choreographed and planned in spontaneous ways?
  • PREPARATION: what steps were taken in order to prepare? How were decisions made? How did the collaboration, training and negotiation of action in public space materialize? What parts were planned and how did the intentions turn out?

The aim of this preparation is to generate a clearer pedagogical, artistic and collaborative vision of how to prepare for collective action, to make the working process more transparent and to share the tools for action that we have developed in previous projects.

 

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Videos

Videos of actions from 2012 -2018

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