Etinosa Yvonne

6x6 Africa Talent: Etinosa Yvonne, Nigeria

Etinosa is a thoughtful and rigorous storyteller and it shows in her work. Her portraiture for the project ‘It’s All in my Head’ with its grace, and almost surrealism, draws the viewer into stories of trauma and memory. The project is an important document that highlights the dignity and humanity of the people who are imaged. It is a testament to the power of photography as a collaboration between the photographer and the person being photographed.” - Gulshan Khan, South Africa, independent photographer, and 6x6 nominator.

Etinosa Yvonne is a self-taught documentary photographer from Nigeria. Her work focuses on underreported societal issues in Nigeria. She works with various art forms including photos and videos. Etinosa leverages the power of storytelling to create awareness, educate, inform, pose questions, and express herself. She has received grants from Women Photograph, National Geographic in partnership with Lagos Photo, and Access Bank Art X. 

It's All In My Head

It’s All In My Head is an ongoing multimedia project that explores the coping mechanisms of survivors of terrorism and violent conflict. The project aims to advocate for increased and long-term access to psychosocial support for the survivors which in turn will improve their mental health.

In the last two decades, Nigeria has witnessed varying degrees of terrorism and violent conflicts. Some of these survivors have witnessed the most violent acts inflicted on them and their loved ones. Over the years, they have found a way to rebuild and adjust to their new lives. However, many of them never get to talk about their experiences and go through life burdened with thoughts of the violence they witnessed and all that they lost.

By using layered portraits of the survivors and the things that they do to move forward, the photographer explores their struggle to move on and examines the causes of terrorism and conflict in Nigeria.

On 31 October 2018, my husband went to tap palm wine in the bush but did not return. Four days after he went missing, some members of our community searched for him and discovered his corpse in the bush. The men who found him saw some Fulani men close to him. He was stabbed and left to die. My husband used to take care of me and my seven children before he died. Now I struggle to provide for my family. I think of him so much, I miss him everyday." - Deborah Danjuma (40), Kaduna, Nigeria, 12 July 2019.
I went to fish and when I returned I saw thick smoke; I saw that my house had been burnt. Four of my kids suffered burns. I took them to the hospital and they stayed there for a month. My wife’s shop was also not spared; all her goods were burnt. I was a successful fisherman and all that changed in one day. I’m not happy at all, sometimes I pray for death. I can barely take care of myself nor my children. I lost everything I had, I’m not happy.” - Jimoh Boton (35), Lagos, Nigeria, 5 September 2018. 
In 2017, I left Borno for Abuja. Before then, I lived in the same village with Boko Haram fighters for months. When I wake up in the morning and just before I go to bed I think of all that happened. There was a time I stayed without food for 15 days because I was hiding. I also saw lots of dead bodies. I went through hell and I can’t get it out of my head. Boko Haram is the worst thing that happened to me.” Hajara Abubakar (24), Borno, Nigeria, 10 April 2018.
I was chatting with some friends, then we saw people running from the market. I tried to find out what was going on as I was confused. I later found out that my brother was stabbed. I rushed down to the hospital to see him. When I got there, I was referred to another hospital. When we arrived at the second hospital, I was told that he was dead. The death of my brother hurt me. I fear that the attackers might strike again because no arrest has been made. Justice has not been served.” Abdul-Razak Salisu (27), Kaduna, Nigeria, 3 June 2019.

Protect Thyself

Protect Thyself is a project that artistically interprets the global shortage of essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic lingers, there has been a rise in demand for various essential items that have become scarce. Using everyday objects, Yvonne creates alternative ways to protect herself from the virus. She created all images in her backyard, using objects from her own environment. 
“I used a bird's nest found during my morning walk as an alternative face mask. I was instantly intrigued by its protruding part. The nest belongs to a species of birds known as village weavers. The protrusion allows for the wearer to speak freely while staying safe.” - Etinosa Yvonne, 5 April 2020.

“When I started the project, I had planned to make a portrait just with a mask. However, I found interesting things in my environment that I could use to address the shortage of certain commodities. In the wake of the pandemic, sanitizers became quite expensive. Lemons are great cleaning agents, so I thought of depicting them as an alternative to sanitizers.” - Etinosa Yvonne, 8 April 2020.

“Because of the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), I thought about alternatives in my environment. I made a PPE from polypropylene bags, which are normally used to store food items, are reusable..” - Etinosa Yvonne, 13 May 2020.
Nature's mobile shield. 8 April 2020.

Discover work by the 6x6 Africa talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.