project image
Yana Listyeva

first performed on May 12, 2020
the artist's home/personal blog
performed once in 2020


Moscow, Russia


“A Very Protected Man” is a video performance delivered in text form, making it essentially a written description of the video performance that could not, due to circumstances, exist in any form other than text. It was first delivered in Russian, and translated into English at a later date.

The performance describes a series of short videos featuring a Very Protected Man, who is trying to perform everyday tasks while wearing a protective welding mask (cannot see anything) and protective boxing gloves (cannot handle objects), rendering him absolutely helpless. Then the performance moves on to explain my reasoning behind the idea as well as grounds for delivering it solely in text form.

In ideal circumstances, I would have been able to actually make the short videos described in the performance, so they could act as satire and criticism upon the actions of the authorities regarding anti-pandemic measures. However, freedom of speech doesn’t really exist in Russia, and at the time this performance was conceived, news and social media had been filled with active cases of artists in Russia being prosecuted (fined and jailed) for making art. That, paired with several instances of legal action against bloggers who criticized the authorities, trying to expose the actual, not-so-shiny conditions at hospitals treating COVID-19, made my decision to deliver the performance in text form practically instantaneous.

It all boils down to anger and lack of freedom, really. I found myself in a situation where the only form of art, the only form of protest available to me (unless I wanted to be prosecuted) was writing a text post in my personal blog, and even that one was relatively safe only because I don’t have that many followers, and, therefore, could not cause a public stir. It made me feel angry and helpless, and the performance reflects that, beginning as a rather detached and academic description, and shifting into an angry and very personal outcry towards the end.

You can read the full text of the performance here: