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

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.
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.








Fabriqué à Paris - Made in Paris

Barricade in Paris of 1944, used for the liberation of France.
Barricade in Paris of 1944, used for the liberation of France.


In Paris, the city where the concept of a barricade originated, Tools for Action has invented a new type of inflatable blockade in preparation for protest at the 2015 UN Climate Summit. The inflatable barricades were ´Made in Paris´ and sent to different climate activist groups around the world to be used on December 12.

Portable inflatable barricade kit sent to New York. 5.12.2015
Portable inflatable barricade kit sent to New York. 5.12.2015


Actions in the United States and London

The inflatables have been sent in packages to activist groups in New York, Portland and London marked “Fabriqué á Paris.” The inscription refers to the climate conference taking place in the city under a state of emergency. It also refers to the barricade being invented in Paris in the 16th century.

Inflatable Blockade of tracked gas pipeline in Wetschester, New York. 11.12.2015.
Inflatable Blockade of tracked gas pipeline in Westchester, New York. 11.12.2015.
Blockade of the offices of the US Forest Service in protest of logging in the Mt. Hood National Forest, Portland. 11.12.2015.
Blockade of the offices of the US Forest Service in protest of logging in the Mt. Hood National Forest, Portland. 11.12.2015.

The inflatables have already been used to blockade the offices of the US Forest Service in protest of logging in the Mt. Hood National Forest and a construction site for fracked gas in Westchester, New York. This tactic addresses the fact that climate change is a global problem that needs a site-specific direct response.

“Red Lines are not for crossing”

A red line is drawn across these infatable barricades, symbolizing the demands drawn up by the Coalition 21, a network of 130 civil-society organisations. The red line entails a drastic and immediate reduction of greenhouse emissions and a recognition of the historical responsibility of industrialized countries. It also demands the installation of a monitoring system with the authority to penalize transgressors, and sufficient financing from more economically developed countries for a global transition to clean energy, including compensation for the suffering and loss that climate change has caused.

Inside the inflatable studio where we gave skillshare workshops how to make the inflatable barricade.
Inside the inflatable studio where we gave skill-share workshops how to make the inflatable barricade.


The barricades were assembled by hundreds of helping hands, connecting French farmers opposing a destructive airport, locals from the Montreuil neighbourhood in Paris and solar panel engineers from California. The construction studio in the social center Jardin d’Alice was a meeting point for discussions, skill sharing, and imagining how this simple tool can be used.

See you in Paris! Skillshare Workshop and Training for COP21

Inflatable sculpture in front of Jardin d´Alice. Photo by Artúr van Balen

Come build inflatables with us in Paris!

Tools for Action is giving skill-share workshops and trainings how to build your own inflatable sculpture and use it as a tool for protest at the United Nation Climate Conference (COP21).

You can find our studio at the Art Build Space at Jardin d´Alice, 19 rue Garibaldi in Montreuil, 93100.
We’re here pretty much everyday making inflatables, so feel free to come by anytime.  We’re always here:
Thursdays to Sundays: 12h - 20h.

Check out our Facebook page for what we’ve been making:

If you can’t make it to Paris, you can also join the crew building inflatables in London for the solidarity demonstrations that will happen there. Email [email protected] for more info about London inflatables.

See you in Paris!

Tools for Action

Test of the inflatable Barricade from toolsforaction

Tutorial Carbon Bubble

Carbon Bubble / Inflatable Tutorial from toolsforaction

The inflatable carbon bubble is a great tool to transform a protest into a highly playful, fun and interactive event and at the same time raise awareness about the carbon bubble issue.*1 The making of the inflatable can be an inspiring group activity. It can be also used for symbolic or direct action: for example the popping of the inflatable carbon
bubble can be very powerful to tell and visualise the future market crash of the fossil fuel industry.

Please email us on [email protected] if you have questions. And please send us pictures of your inflatable action!

Let´s pop this carbon bubble!


Tools for Action

*1 The “carbon bubble” is first coined by the Carbon Tracker Initiative in their “Unburnable Carbon” Report (2011). A definition of the idea is, that “fossil fuel companies are overvalued because if and when the world ever gets serious about dealing with the climate crisis, the fossil fuel companies won’t be able to burn their carbon reserves, from which they derive their value.” Kessler, Huffington Post 29.10.2013



Make your own inflatable Hammer!

The 12 meter inflatable hammer was sewn during a 10 day participatory workshop from the eclectic electric collective. The hammer can be inflated in 9 minutes by a small high-tech ventilator (DV 6224) using two car batteries (24 V) as its energy source. See the video for instructions:

The motive for the hammer was inspired by the quote: “Art is not a mirror for reality, but a hammer with which to shape it”, expressing clearly the distinction between “representational political art” and “interventional art politics”. The sewing pattern was developed during the workshop by Sarah Drain and many others.

Digital Sketch made by Paul Pistorius 2011.