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Theory of Protection

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Darya Koltsova, Theory of Protection, installation, 2014 - ongoing

Darya Koltsova, z serii Teorie ochronne, instalacja w oknach galerii Lescer/from the series Theory of Protection, installation in in the windows of Lescer Gallery;

14 maj/May 2022 - 14 czerwiec/June 2022

Window-taping project “Theory of Protection”/ “Teorie ochronne” mimics measures taken to protect windows against glass shattering into pieces in response to a shock wave after an explosion. The project was initiated in 2014, after Russia’s invasion in Donetsk and Luhansk, and is adapted for current times in solidarity with Ukraine.

For now, you must try not to die.

First step: window taping – instructions

1. You will need duct tape and a stool if the window is tall. In old tenements, windows are even two and a half meters high. The last fifty centimeters of the window is the vent. This also needs to be taped. It is best if the tape is thick, at least five centimeters wide.

2. Tear the tape with your teeth or cut with scissors. Then stick to the glass, first diagonally, from the lower right corner of the window towards the upper left corner, then vice versa. Repeat the same process on the vent.

3. Also stick the tape through the center of the glass, joining its frames from bottom to top and from right to left.

4. Repeat the patterns in the form of smaller intersections. This creates numerous intersecting patterns from the tape on the glass.

5. When finished, secure the tape, and put it back for reuse.

The patterns on the windows are very intricate. Five stripes across, three stripes from bottom to top, two diagonally, would be enough. Meanwhile, those on the windows in Donetsk and Luhansk, Kyiv and Kharkov, form intricate ornaments that take a whole day to stick. The carriers of faith in salvation, they are both a wound and a bandage. They are beautiful.

When the shock wave from the explosion comes, the windows will vibrate. First you will hear the impact, a millisecond later you will notice the vibrating movement of the floor and walls, it will pass through your feet and reach the top of your head, you will feel it in every hair on your body. The windows will vibrate. First the frames, then the long windowsills. You will watch as the vibrations pass from the frames to the strips, which fight with all their lifeless being. At this moment, all your attention will be focused only on them. You will see them tense, the tiny cracks in the glass crawling rapidly from edge to center, and tugging at the taped bodies, trying to find a free run to release the explosive energy that lurks within them. It will all take ten or twelve seconds. When the wave is gone, you will stroke the smooth surface of the tape with your hand. You will look out on the street; you will see who is dead.

Second step: protective spell – text

Dark and silent night. You sit on a brown horse, on a falcon saddle. You close the cell, doors, pigsties, Orthodox churches and monasteries. Close my enemies’ mouths, eyes, and cheeks.

God our Veles, my word is as hard as this silent hard white stone. Let all hedgehogs, wolves and animals go around it sideways. Let them not see or hear, let them not do any harm.

Most Holy Mother, lead us and we will carry your fame into the world. To Veles, to Mokosh, to Perun Perunowich, to brightness and to all gods close to us.

Wind gods, protect during the day, at night, at midnight, at dawn and in the mornings. And save in our sleep.

Activity three: waiting

Keep your head down and don’t tempt fate. Don’t talk or make noise. Be quiet, don’t go out, don’t get into unnecessary discussions. Don’t lean out, don’t look in the eyes. Pray. Don’t stick out your head. Keep your head down. Away from the windows. Huddled, hidden like a mouse under a broom, hidden like a needle in a haystack, crouching like a cobra in the grass, like a viper in grapes. Silent. Invisible. Absent.

Text: Ewa Sułek Curator Fulbright Fellow, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute


Darya Koltsova: born in 1987, Kharkov. Until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 lived and worked in Kyiv and Odessa. Graduated Kharkov Academy of Design and Arts, majoring in History and Theory of Arts. Artist, performer, author of installations and media projects, curator. Grand Prix winner of the MUHi 2015 competition for young Ukrainian artists.

Ośrodek Sztuki Lescer, Zalesie Górne

For photos of various collaborations in response to Koltsova’s project, see:

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