At age twenty-three, Brooklyn-based photographer Marilyn Nance traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, as the official photographer for the US contingent at the Second World Festival of Black and African Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77). A euphoric Pan-African gathering and beacon for the African diaspora, FESTAC ’77 gathered over fifteen thousand international artists, musicians, and intellectuals. Nance stayed in Nigeria for the entire month-long festival, creating over fifteen hundred images.
Her wide-ranging photographs—which include intimate studies of companions and acquaintances, portraits of African American luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movement, and snapshots of pairs and trios on the streets of Lagos—demonstrate an astute sensitivity to bodily expression and the distinct rhythms of the festival, which fostered a sense of pride and solidarity among people across the African continent and the African diaspora.
Gallery label from 2023