24.03.2022 Events, Visual Arts

Theory of Protection with a Ukrainian artist Darya Koltsova

Window-taping project in solidarity with Ukraine
Organized on March 24, 2022

Curator: Ewa Sułek

First installment as a protest against the war in Ukraine at Lescer Art Center in 2022.

🇺🇦 On March 24, 2022—a month after Russia’s invasion on Ukraine—we taped our windows, and we invited you to tape your windows in solidarity with Ukraine. The project entitled THEORY of PROTECTION, by artist Darya Koltsova, mimics protection of glass against it falling into pieces in an uncontrolled way in response to a shock wave from an explosion. The social media initiative has been a great success with hundreds of individuals and organizations participating from around the world. We are grateful for your participation, and let us continue in solidarity with Ukraine until the war ends. You can see the project’s results by searching through hashtags #TheoryOfProtection, #DaryaKoltsova, and #StandWithUkraine.

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 centimetres of the window is the vent. This also needs to be taped. It is best if the tape is thick, at least five centimetres 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 centre 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 Kharkiv, 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 centre, 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


The Lescer Art Center presents Theory of Protection, an installation by Ukrainian artist Darya Koltsova. In 2017, the project was shown in Warsaw, Poland, as part of the exhibition State of Danger (Pracownia Duży Pokój). In the text for the exhibition, Ewa Sułek wrote:

The state of danger is the moment when nothing is happening yet. It is a moment of uncertainty and observation, a moment of vigilance and suspension, a moment of little stabilization. (…) Conflicts also have a second face – quiet and every day, full of small changes, new practices aimed at adapting to the changed realities of life.

The state of emergency in which the inhabitants of Ukraine have lived since 2013 has taken the form of massive-scale warfare. Thus, it is a registration of the new reality in its private (apartment windows), but also in a mass-scale version. The tapes arranged in beautiful patterns can save lives. But they also talk about a wound, a place that hurts, which is still whole but may turn to dust in a moment.

Contact and additional information:

USA
Ewa Sułek
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
esulek@fas.harvard.edu

Poland
Paweł Zaręba
Lescer Art Center
info@lescer.org

Photos: Lescer Art Center, Zalesie Górne, Poland, Pracownia Duży Pokój, Warsaw, Poland, Polish Cultural Institute New York.

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