Lecture by Artur van Balen "Blow Up!The Inflatable Spectacle"


06.03.2015, 18:30-20:00 Friday

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Program: [Art residence]

National Centre for Contemporary Arts, North-Western Branch

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St. Petersburg State University


March 6, 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

Lecture by Artist Artúr van Balen

"Blow Up! The Inflatable Spectacle:

From Historical Research To Art-Activism"


Left: USA, New York, 1937. Colonialist float at the Macy´s ThanksGiving Day Parade. University of Akron Archival Services. Rght: USSR, Moscow, date unknown. Inflatable houses at Red square. Photographer Georg Zemla.

Inflatable figures are always round and have a tendency to become comical. Their light weight and floating giant size put people in disbelief. Inflatable figures are perfect objects for creating attention. In the lecture “The Inflatable Spectacle: from Historical Research to Art-Activism” a sculptural artist, researcher and activist Artur van Balen will highlight the history of this curious phenomenon. Based on his archive research in the United States and in Moscow and St. Petersburg, artist will show how inflatable figures were used in parades in the early 1930-s in the Soviet Union and the United States as tools for mass media communication and used as military tools for air defense in the World War II. Then the artist will compare the historical footage with his own practice in using inflatable figures for media interventions.

Artur van Balen is a sculptural artist, researcher and activist living in Berlin, Germany. Since 2010 he has been making inflatable sculptures for use in actions and protests around the world. The inflatable sculptures have been made in collaboration with different political art groups. Van Balen’s individual and collective work has been internationally exhibited at the Victoria and Albert’s Museum (Disobedient Objects Exhibition, London, 2014), The Media Impact Festival for Activist Art (Moscow, 2011 and 2013) and at The Truth is Concrete Festival by Steirischen Herbst (Graz, Austria, 2012), amongst other notable venues. His sculptures - ranging from 10 meter high inflatables used at protests to delicate porcelain designs - reveal a fascination with the ephemeral and the state of transformation. This transformation can take many forms both physically through inflatables and biological processes as well as socially through activism and engaging in social change. However, at the heart of everything van Balen does, there is a touch of irony and play at work.
Artist’s websites: www.arturvanbalen.net/ , www.toolsforaction.net/

The artist was invited to St. Petersburg by NCCA to work on the project on inflatable sculptures at the NCCA Art Residence in Kronstadt.

The lecture will be held in English.

Admission free.

Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of the St. Petersburg State University
Cinema hall, 58-60 Galernaya St., St. Petersburg

National Centre for Contemporary Arts, North-Western Branch (812) 670 85 30, www.ncca.ru


2a, Glinki st, St Petersburg.  © National centre for contemporary arts. Developement [artinfo]. [Andrey Velikanov]'s design