20.07 – 02.09 Exhibition Barricade // IG Metall, Berlin

A passage through the inflatable barricade.
A passage through the inflatable barricade.

 

The mirror barricade is a social sculpture consisting of silver reflective inflatable cubes that can be assembled within seconds into a barricade. The playful tools for blockading roads were built by citizens of Dortmund, who positioned themselves against xenophobia and the so-called “Day of German Future” neo-Nazi rally on the 4th of June 2016.

The exhibition reflects on the process, the forming of the “social sculpture” through an installation, a video and a small publication. The installation consists of an inflatable wall that divides the room into two and serves as a semipermeable membrane. A projection shows two separate videos: the first shows the fabrication workshops and barricade trainings at schools, combined with interviews of 12-13 year old students who explain how they learned to make inflatable cubes and put them to use as a barricade. The second video shows aerial footage of a mass choreographed barricade training with more than 200 people participating, combined with film clips of the inflatables used at two counter demonstrations against the neo-Nazi march: a playful, family-friendly demonstration at Wilhelmsplatz (the square in the district Dorstfeld, what the self-proclaimed neo-Nazis call their “national liberated zone”) and the barricade at BlockaDO, the more radical demonstration that promoted nonviolent civil disobedience for blockading the neo-Nazi march. The BlockaDO demonstration was kettled in immediately after the start. The cubes became cushions and a protection barrier between angry protesters and police forces. The police response was to cut the inflatable works into pieces. Here the question arises about how to deal with neo-Nazi marches and which values are defended in our society.

A small publication designed by Studio Pandan serves as the teaser for Tools for Action’s upcoming book, with texts about the history of barricades (Tom Ullrich), an analysis of the transformative potential of play in demonstrations (Seraphine Meya) and a text describing the pedagogical aspect of the project (Helena Breidt).

The mirror barricade was initiated by Artúr van Balen / Tools for Action in cooperation with the Theatre of Dortmund. Action realised by Tools for Action (in Dortmund coordinated by Artúr van Balen, Katherine Ball, Tilly Gifford, Camille Martenot with additional support on the day of action by Dan Glass, Malcolm Kratz, Seraphine Meya and Aidan Whiteley) together with the Schauspiel Dortmund, the Municipal Integration Centre of Dortmund and the network Schools without Racism – Schools with Courage.

Exhibition from 20th of July until 2nd of September 2016.

Exhibition by Artúr van Balen
Video edit: Artúr van Balen
Video Sound: Sander Manse

Publication and graphic design by Ann Richter and Pia Christmann from Studio Pandan
Texts by Seraphine Meya, Tom Ullrich, Helena Breidt.

Exhibition curated by the Haus am Lützowplatz within the IG Metall (Metall Union).

Action realised with the Theatre of Dortmund,

Action funded by the the Dortmund Municipality for Diversity, Tolerance and Democracy, the Municipal Integration Center of Dortmund, LUSH Charity Pot, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation,  Dortmund City Marketing and a crowdfunding campaign.

Exhibition Barricade runs from 21 July until 2 September 2016

Address:
Exhibitionspace of IG Metall (Metall Trade Union)
Alte Jakobstraße 149
10969 Berlin

Opening hours: 
Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am until 2:30 pm
Entrance free

 

Back-side of the inflatable barricade.
Backside of the inflatable barricade.

 

Fragment of workshop table and wall with collaborators, showing the alliance and the organisational structure of the action.
Fragment of workshop table and wall with collaborators, showing the alliance and the organisational structure of the action.
Video Projection of Schoolworkshops, Barricade Trainings from aerial perspective and Action on the 4th of June 2016.
Video Projection of School Workshops, Barricade Trainings from aerial perspective and Action on the 4th of June 2016.
Barricade_pre_publication
Publication and photographs for take away: Designed by Ann Richter and Pia Christmann of Studio Pandan. Analog photograph by Camille Martenot on the 4th of June, showing the Thusneldastreet / Emscherstreet in Dorstfeld-Dortmund, flags with the sign HTLR and the Graffiti 100% Nazi-Kiez.
Cubes from the back with Signs of Usage and Names and Quotes of people who adopted a cobble during the crowdfunding campaign.
Cubes from the back with signs of usage as well as names and quotes of people who “adopted” a cube during the crowdfunding campaign.

IGMetall_inflator

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lungs (2013)

Video concept by Artúr van Balen (Art Director), Video production Jakob Huber (Edit), filmteams LeftVision and Regenfrei. Thanks for everyone participating.The video would not have been possible with the big help of numerous individuals.

 

The inflatable lung breathes every 5.5 seconds in and every 5.5 seconds out. The inflatable sculpture is part of the #Cough4Coal-Campaign, a self-initiated campaign about the health impacts of the coal industry.

The burning of coal by coal fired power plants not only release CO2 emissions, but also various toxic metals, acid gas and fine particulate matter. Scientific studies say, that the fine particulate matters from coal fired power plants are particularly hazardous. The fine matter from a diameter not bigger as 2.5 micrometer penetrate our lung tissue, enter our blood stream, causing asthma, high blood pressure, a higher risk of cancer and other related health problems.*1

The inflatable lungs can be carried in a demonstration. The sculpture will be now sent in a suitcase to travel around the world to highlight the health impacts of air-pollution. The first stops have been Berlin at an international coal conference and in Warsaw protesting the the Clean Coal Conference during the United Nation Climate Conference.

The tour can be followed at www.facebook.com/cough4coal



*1 More information about the relation between air pollution from coal fired power plants and health impacts you can find here: http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/heal_report_the_unpaid_health_bill_-

«Sawing» Bolotnaya (Moscow 2013)

The adventures of a giant inflatable saw during the opposition rally in Moscow

by Veronika Komarova

On may 6th 2013 almost 20 000 muscovites gathered on Bolotnaya square near Kremlin to mark the 1 year anniversary of the “March of Millions” – an anti-Putin demonstration, which in previous may  turned into a bloody clash between the protesters and the police. During this major opposition rally, the third of its kind in 2013, a giant inflatable “saw” («Pila» in russian) was seen surfing through the crowd. This 10 metre long symbolic sculpture (the “saw” is an easy-recognizable symbol of corruption and budget-stealing in Russia) was made specially for the event by Artur Van Balen/Tools for Action in collaboration with the artivist group Partizaning and other local activists, artists and journalists to show support for the protest movement in Russia.

saw-moscow-web

Anniversary of a bloody protest

The Russian opposition movement today is noticeably losing its former power and popularity among the citizens compared with last year. Started during the autumn of 2011 as a response to the rigged parliamentary elections (as of which the opposition leaders started to call current ruling party “United Russia”- “the party of crooks and thieves”), it soon began to spread all around Russia and received active support from foreign countries as well – with the slogan “Fair votes for Russia” mass demonstrations were regularly held in more than 20 countries. After the massively falsified presidential votes in March 2012 – when then prime minister Vladimir Putin received 63.64% and became the president for the 3rd time – a sudden wave of protests reached a new high. However, only 2 months later, on may 6th (the eve of Putin’s new-term inauguration) the opposition organized a new demonstration called “March of Millions” which unintentionally turned into a huge violent fight between the protesters and the police. People were walking down the Yakimanka streets to Bolotnaya square with posters saying “We will not let the thief into the Kremlin” when the police suddenly blocked their way, announced that the rally had been cancelled, and began force them to disperse with batons. What resulted were dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests.

 

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QloceWWaM6A
“The battle of Bolotnaya” became a turning point in the short history of the 2011-2012 protests – people suddenly became aware of how dangerous even the most “peaceful” rally can be in this country, and, as a result, some part of them decided to step away from the movement. One year on, civil activists still live in daily fear of being caught and tried in the “Bolotnaya square case”  (there are already 30 people accused of organizing the 6th of may’s mass disorders, most of whom are under arrest and awaiting trial) and a lot of former protesters, who used to take part in almost every rally last year, now choose to stay at home instead of taking risks on the streets.

 

The new symbol of Bolotnaya

However, a year after the “Bolotnaya tragedy”, the opposition decided to gather again on the same spot on 6th of may 2013 – with a new claim to “Free Bolotnaya prisoners”.  As everyone else, we had doubts about attending the demo – no one could guarantee the safety of the event, especially with last year’s tragedies at the forefront of our minds. In a situation where anyone could be arrested without cause, it was extremely dangerous to be there, especially with a giant saw-shaped object «the Pila» (“sawing the budget” in russian is a settled expression which means “corruption” and “budget-stealing by the officials”), which we had made specially for this event and were supposed to bring with us.

Transport of inflatable saw to Bolotnaya Square, 06.05.2013, Moscow
Transport of inflatable saw to Bolotnaya Square, 06.05.2013, Moscow

On the day of the demonstration, the inflatable was taken-out to Bolotnaya square by his associates who were  activists of the local movement “Partizaning”. The problem appeared right away at the entrance to the meeting – as in Russia protesters need to go through a metal detector before entering an authorized rally. A policeman began shaking his head as soon as he noticed our cart with a huge silver object, and it seemed like our plan would fail at the first hurdle. Our explanations that it would be a “huge inflatable silver ball” didn’t work. The guard said that the art-action should have been confirmed earlier, directly with the organisers.

 

pic3

 

Luckily, we could quickly catch one of the organisers, who helped us to settle the problem with getting the saw through the entrance. Thus, the police agreed to let our cart through with the proviso that the sculpture would be inflated under their close watch. The process of inflating the saw attracted a mass audience. Demonstrators couldn’t understand what would come of it –  was it a silver caterpillar, or a phallic symbol …

pic 5

When the inflatable was ready, poet Alexander Delphinov, who was also attending the event, grabbed it and went straight into the crowd shouting out an improvised verse about the saw, the corruption and the “crooks and thieves” who “cut and steal” the budget.
The saw was joyfully greeted by the crowd with people helping activists to carry it. Someone even organized an improvised performance with words: “It’s time to saw some budget”:

 

The sculpture had made ​​two crowd-surfing “trips” from the entrance gates to the stage and back, and then stopped under the monument of the well-known russian painter Ilya Repin. People kept coming there until the very end of the day – they were taking pictures, touching the saw from different sides and discussing its meaning. I would imagine that, for some of them, our huge inflatable «Pila» became a symbol of Bolotnaya-2013.

pic01

See also video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C7qFexkxzxE

The  inflatable art-action with inflatables showed russians a new way of  protesting, one which was more creative, self-organized, and safe. Perhaps this was also a method which was a little more fun to express their thoughts and demands during the mass demonstrations. Fortunately, solidarity with the “May 6 prisoners” rally has gathered more than 20 000 people and ended peacefully.

Veronika Komarova is a journalist writing for Public Post, an online russian news blog.

The Pink Slapping Chappal – (Mangalore 2013)

After the Delhi gangrape in December 2012, a revival of the feminist movement began in India. This 7 meter inflatable slipper supported the “Walk for Women”, a Women rights demonstration in  Mangalore, South-India. The video documents the collaboration between Artur van Balen and Tilly Ferguson // Tools for Action  and the political theatre group Tharikita Kala Kammata, Breakthrough, Shakari Snehittara Niranthara, based in Mangalore and the village Bramakutlu. The building process took place in the village Bramakutlu, 25 km east of Mangalore.

The Pink Slapping Chappal // Mangalore, India January 2013 from Artur on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Vani Periodi, Vidya Dinker, Uday Kumar, Sunila, Malika, Pavitra, Ini, Kishur, Agyi, Aydin, the groups Tharikita Kala Kammata, Breakthrough, Shakari Snehittara Niranthara and many others in Bramakutlu village and beyond.

Object: 7 x 3 x 1,5 m
Material: flex foil, double sided tape, thread, discarded car tubes, bike pump
Video: 6:10 ; edit Artúr van Balen

Preparatory Workshop in Mangalore on 7.01.2013

Mangalore Skillshare from Artur on Vimeo.