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A Shining Moment of Pan-African Promise in a New Book

A new book from photographer Marilyn Nance, Last Day in Lagos, showcases the unbridled passion, creativity, and push for Pan-Africanism that existed at a signature event in 1977. As a 23-year-old, recent graduate of Pratt Institute, she joined the 17,000 artists who converged in Lagos for FESTAC ’77, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, and she documented every minute of it. 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.