Inflatable History

Tools for Action is inspired by subversive predessors such as the architecture performance group Ant Farm (San Francisco,1968), U.F.O. (Florence, 1968 ), the Eventstructure Research group (Amsterdam, 1968-1978).


In May 2018, fifty years after 1968 the travelling exhibition Floating Utopias was launched at the basic democratic arts society neue Gesellschaft für bildenbde Kunst (nGbK) in Berlin. The exhibition was initiated by Tools for Action founder Artúr van Balen and tried to exemplify the effect inflatables had on people, crowds and ultimately on social history.  Here the beginning of the exhibition text:

Ever since the first hot-air balloon took flight in 1783, inflatable objects have inspired the imagination of alternative worlds. In the nineteenth century, aerial cities colonized the skies, floating laboratories surveyed the world, and flying cameras popularized the view from above. Starting in the 1930s, gigantic inflatable figures have set the stage for both socialist and capitalist mass parades. Along with the ideals of the generation of 1968, inflatable spaces and performances entered into architecture and tested new forms of coexistence.

Floating Utopias presents the diversity of pneumatic media in an exhibition and accompanying interventions in urban space. The project juxtaposes historical with contemporary works and raises questions as to their potential for artistic and activist practices. Inflatable objects still serve as tools for aesthetic and political
interventions today: artists and activists situate their works between surreality and functionality, fiction and fact. Inflatables entice us into play and disobedience, foster community and participation, generate interest and agency.
More information can be found at the Floating Utopias website at the archive of the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK), Berlin.

The TV channel 3Sat did an interview with artist Artúr van Balen about Tools for Action in relation to Floating Utopias: