From 15 January through 12 February 1977, more than 15,000 artists, intellectuals, and performers from 55 nations worldwide gathered in Lagos, Nigeria. Formally titled the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC 77 drew on the Négritude foundations of Senegal’s 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts and emphasized themes of Pan-Africanism and global black liberation. Visual artist Marilyn Nance served as the official photographer for the USA contingent of the North American delegation to FESTAC.
The book LAST DAY IN LAGOS stages an in-depth encounter with Nance’s FESTAC photographic archive. With a sensitivity to recurring formal and conceptual themes, it contends with the scope of the archive’s 1,500 images of the festival and its adjacent events. Locating Nance’s perspective within the context of geopolitical, historical, and aesthetic discourses of the Black Atlantic, postcolonial Nigeria, and the Black Arts Movement in the United States, LAST DAY IN LAGOS provides a series of entry-points through which to consider the construction, circulation, and maintenance of photographic archives that render black liberation and celebration.
Remi Onabanjo is the editor of Nance’s upcoming book.