‘Coro Angels’ by Nigerian Visual Storyteller, Andrew Esiebo, is an artistic documentation of the frontline workers who were responding to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Till date, Nigeria has a recorded number of 177,142 COVID-19 cases and despite the constant challenges that Healthcare workers face such as inadequate resources, poor welfare and even social stigmatisation, frontline workers are continuously putting their lives on the line to ensure that this pandemic comes to an end.
“The transformation of the Healthcare workers is what inspired me to make the project. When talking to a health worker who is wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you don’t actually know the person that you are talking to. The whole concept of the project was to show the transformation that the Healthcare workers go through in order to save peoples lives and also, a way to pay homage to these individuals so that they can be identified for their hard work” explains Andrew. Andrews project is a perfect depiction of the saying ‘not all superheroes wear capes’. The stark ‘before and after’ allows the viewers to see the faces of the Healthcare workers and relate to them on a personal level. The psychological effects of being able to see yourself in someone else is infallible.
When asked how he was able to gain access, Andrew revealed the following; “I was lucky to get access as I was working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), so they facilitated that access. Despite being commissioned to do something completely different, I encountered this experience and thought, why not photograph this aspect as my own personal take”. This is a great example of making the most out of every opportunity that you have to tell a compelling story. Stories are everywhere around us, all it takes is observation and a few ideas to create something incredible.
“One challenging moment I faced was when I was taking photo’s will a colleague and we were told that someone that we had interacted with had the virus. That person then sneezed and both myself and my colleague freaked out! We started pouring disinfectants all over our bodies because we were so scared, I even overdosed on vitamin C! Being a survivor of the virus myself made me extra cautious. I really respect these Healthcare workers, they are doing an amazing job. I was only with them for a few hours, but these guys, they are there the whole day risking their lives in order to make people better, that was my biggest motivation for carrying out this project” expressed Andrew. The postproduction done on the images with the creation of a halo-like circle above the Healthcare workers heads, really achieved the purpose of characterising these individuals as angels. The admiration that Andrew has for the individuals that he photographed emanates from the images and is transferred to us, the viewers, enabling us to also have this same respect and admiration for not only the people photographed, but all the other frontline workers that we come across during our day to day lives.
Andrew Esiebo is an award winning Nigerian Visual Storyteller based in Lagos, Nigeria. Andrew works with various different mediums exploring new creative territories integrating multimedia practice with the investigation of themes such as sexuality, gender politics, football, popular culture, migration, religion, and spirituality. To view his work, visit his website