Photos & Projects

Too Big To Fail – A Visual Acknowledgement – By Nico Klein-Allermann

March 10, 2021

When Corona made its way into society in early 2020, it was something completely new for the world. Many people, including us, were afraid and were unsettled. How dangerous is the virus? Can I continue my normal life? How will it affect my life?

We quickly realised how courageous those are who face up to this uncertainty day after day are the backbone of society. They belong to the professional groups that guarantee a safe infrastructure with their work.

As photojournalists, we document in order to remember.


Nick and Nico at Frankfurt Airport

I was working as an art teacher when the first lock down started. I was able to see first hand how the system was totally overwhelmed and how the people at the bottom of the hierarchies had to deal with instructions from the politicians at the top that changed every two days.

It was trial and error, largely because of incompetence of the politicians. Every highly relevant job for society had to experience this. Yes it was new for everyone, including the politicians, but even 13 month later there is still no proper working school system here, and teachers still don’t know what the plan is now or what it’s going to be moving forward.

And that’s just in teaching. To name a few more; grocery store retailers, firefighters, police, pilots, public transportation drivers. They have been left alone to a greater extent to work it out for themselves. In the end the human race will survive, it will find a way that will work. But the improvisation, the constantly adapting to new rules and facing the fear all impresses me and I felt it needed to be acknowledged. I don’t want to just acknowledge their job, because that’s their job – I wanted to acknowledge the extra mile they went. I wanted to hear their stories, and I wanted to hear how they managed.


Dr. Trix Kopke, Max-Planck Gymnasium Berlin

“It’s amazing the anticipation students can develop to come back to school when it is temporarily suspended.

That’s why myself and and Nick Harwart are working on a visual acknowledgement in the form of portraits and interviews. We wanted to hear their stories and listen to their emotions and we felt we needed to manifest and document them.

Only when everything will be “normal” again will we then find the time to recapitulate, but by then the emotions and stories will be fading away. Humans tend to forget.

This is why we are calling it a visual acknowledgement, it is as a sign of cohesion during the Corona Pandemic.

With 15 individual portraits and corresponding audio interviews we let the people we acknowledged represent their professions in this complex time. Their auditory reporting is to be displayed in an exhibition alongside photos from the different occupations,
to sketch the emotional background behind them.


Fabian, Firefighter Hamburg Germany


Fokko Doyen, Cargo Pilot Lufthansa Frankfurt

“The importance of a lot of travel, can certainly be well be questioned with and without the pandemic.”

To bring this project to life we are raising money on Startnext. We have been working on this project for 10 months and out of our believe for the project, we have so far funded it out of our own pockets. But to scale up the work, we need your support. The money will be used to realize the project. We are still to make 10 more portraits, and make 10 more interviews. There will also be productions cost for the exhibition: prints, frames, equipment, etc. Please support us on Startnext so together we can realise this project.

You find all information here: www.startnext.de/toobigtofail

We thank you & wish you health & confidence,
Nick Harwart & Nico Klein-Allermann

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Barry reid
    March 11, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Interesting post, good to see a project on COV-19 which tries to get past the doorstep/window portraits or the newsy health worker shots. Hopefully much good work grappling with the wider (and narrower, personal) impacts of the pandemic is still to come.

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