On the role of inflatables in parades

in the United States and the Soviet Union 1927-1938




Film 4:3; 4.05 min

Concept, edit and research Art√∫r van Balen


A video of archive footage exploring the ideological role of inflatable sculptures as a tool for mass media communication in the 1930s in the United States and the Soviet Union.


In the United States, the inflatable figures appeared from 1927 onwards at the Macy´s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The objects represented cartoon figures, such as Mickey Mouse, but also more curious figures such as “a 50-foot model of a Red Indian”. The sculptures were intended to entertain and stimulate consumption. In the Soviet Union the inflatables were used to demonstrate technological progress with new high tech weather balloons, as symbols of production carried by workers of a particular profession, and to ridicule political opponents. One such ridiculising inflatable is the 20-meter snake with the swastika on its head from the Red Square in 1934. It was mobilising sentiments against the rise of fascism in Europe.