HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN
May 25th, 2020
by Nina Turok Shapiro
Coronavirus gets its name from the fact that, when examined under an electron microscope, its outmost layers look somewhat like a "corona", the Latin word for "wreath" or "crown". I built on this idea by creating a series of self-portraits where I'm wearing crowns I made out of objects I associate with this time of isolation and lockdown.
Each image addresses a different theme. In some of them I wanted to convey the concept of regaining control, or a semblance of it, through cleaning, searching for vaccines and stockpiling. We are experiencing a global pandemic and have little control over our situation, so we do what we can to feel like we have power over the virus and, as a consequence, our own lives. I also wanted to make a comment on the privilege that middle class communities have and how they exploit this through stockpiling. Toilet paper rolls, disinfectant sprays and hand soap become high-end accessories. I wanted to portray these items as luxurious and valuable.
Some images address issues of the all-consuming and constant stream of news, medical information and statistics. The idea of the crown holds a lot of symbolism and many different associations. I was also inspired by the saying “heavy is the head that wears the crown” as well as the concept of the biblical “crown of thorns”, which was used to inflict pain as well as undermine claims to authority.
Nina Turok Shapiro is a 20-year-old artist living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a student at The Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. You can find her on Instagram @ninaturokshapiro or contact her at