This exhibition will be available to view on loop in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Amphitheater throughout this year’s festival.

For her 3rd solo presentation at Film at Lincoln Center, Nigerian-American artist Zainab Aliyu probes the archival silence surrounding Black experiences amidst generations of migration and forced displacement, illuminating the power dynamics inherent in shaping collective memory. *By juxtaposing images from her familial archive with those from her community that depict similar scenes or events, the artist questions the hegemony of singular narratives and highlights the plurality of lived experiences within Black communities. Central to Aliyu’s inquiry is the refigured stereograph image, a reimagined form that unearths parallel timelines and forges connections across temporal, geographical and ancestral boundaries. This process of searching for echoes in the archive reaffirms the enduring bonds that persist, despite the historical legacy of colonialism and racial capitalism. Just as stereoscopic vision merges two slightly different images to create depth perception, the work invites viewers to perceive history through a multidimensional lens rooted in shared experiences of joy, resilience, struggle and the meaningful practices that shape familial narratives over time. Accompanying the images, speculative captions float alongside—sometimes redacting—machine-generated captions, piecing together fragments of memory in a way that speaks to Saidiya Hartman’s practice of “critical fabulation” and Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ evocation of that which is “ancestrally co-written.”

The title, A litany for past suns labeled rituals / A star lit any and all possible futures, is a bilateral anagram where all the letters of the first part make up the letters of the second part. It’s inspired by Nikki Giovanni’s “A Litany for Peppe” (1970) and Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival” (1978), two poems written years apart, yet converging thematically through time. As the title suggests, the piece is structured as a litany, a repetitive and rhythmic form often used in ceremonial settings. In this context, Aliyu’s litany serves as a call to action for her communities to alchemize their shared histories towards shared futurities.

This project will be presented in two parts over the next two years. Part I (2024) will present a series of fabric prints leveraging an anaglyph effect to create layered meaning in the images and text presented, which can be perceived through red and cyan viewers offered to visitors. Part II (2025) will present a non-linear and durational moving image iteration of this work.

*In addition to Zainab Aliyu’s family archive, this project features archival submissions from Gladys Edeh, Jihan El-Tahri, Jean Fall, Nyareeta Gach, Du Gomes, Onyekachi Iloh, Zainab Jah and Makeda Yezalaleul. This is an ongoing project. Share your family narratives: