people on the beach
Life

Love in Lagos

Photographer Isabel Okoro returns to Lagos, Nigeria, to find the pandemic brought a new element of intimacy and community to her home.
June 7, 2021, 11:55am

This is part of a special series, We’re Reemerging. What Does the World Look Like Now?, which considers in real time how we cope while living through a historic time. It’s also in the latest VICE magazine. Subscribe here

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As it is our center, love should be at the heart of everything we do. In this photo series, I turn the lens on my community at home in Lagos. After being away for a year because of the pandemic, I felt compelled to explore what changed and what remained the same in terms of the ways individuals related to themselves and others. By exploring the tender interactions in various types of relationships, this body of work aims to emphasize the importance of both intra- and interpersonal love. 

a couple embracing and posing for a photo

What do we do that is a reflection of the love we share? This question is at the core of the images and served as a guiding force when putting them together. I set out to engage with love as a necessity—something that must prevail in our society. The resulting series is a collection of images that highlight new and existing bonds within my community. 

the shore of Tarkwa

A big part of love is a conscious dedication to someone or something. Something that everyone in this image has in common, besides being a Lagosian, is their dedication to an intra- or interpersonal relationship. Whether it’s me and my mother, or friends at a cookout, there is a sense of warmth and acceptance that echoes through the photographs. 

two people in a boat on the beach

I’ve also thought a lot about public space and how the pandemic influenced the way we interact with public spaces. I’ve found that in Lagos, they’re less crowded and littered. I wonder if being in lockdown made people understand the delicacy of space. When I’m out and about, I notice a more conscious dedication to sanity and hygiene—this is love, too. We are nothing without the space we occupy, and it’s important to nurture the environment that nurtures us.

people swimming on the shore fo the beach

When I think about a post-COVID world, I dream of one that is more intimate, communal, and delicate. Being aware of how you interact with your community allows for accountability and change for the better. I would like to see more intentionality in everything—and, as you can hear from my subjects, so would they.

person sitting on the sand on the beach

DAP

Post-pandemic, I’m looking forward to performing and connecting with the people who really support my music. Not just the crowd interaction, but conversations after the shows and getting to know these people is important to me. This is also the longest time I’ve spent away from home in my life, so I’m very much looking forward to getting back to Lagos and reconnecting with family.

landscape scene on the beach
two sisters sitting posing for a portrait together

photographer Isabel Okoro posing for a portrait with her mother
view of a bridge at night in lagos
group of people talking under a tree

view of flowers
two people posing for a portrait holding red solo cups
pregnant person posing for a portrait

MAYOKUN

COVID was a great period for me in terms of marriage and intimacy. We were able to just focus solely on each other and what we wanted out of life. We set things in motion—which are now becoming a fast reality. I think about where we were this time last year, and I cannot believe what we were able to do and achieve together in that time.

I’m looking forward to motherhood, to hanging out with friends again, because I haven’t really seen my friends—we talk often but we have not hung out properly, and I truly miss my unit. I’m also looking forward to going back to full-time employment. I used to be a going out buddy, but thanks to COVID, I’ve found true joy and contentment in just being a home buddy. I love it, so it’s very unlikely that I’ll revert back to my old social ways.

a couple kissing and posing for a portrait

Follow Isabel Okoro on Instagram.