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Martine Syms’ Lessons I­-CLXXX, 2014–2018, is an extended poem in 180 parts about the black radical tradition. Each piece, or commercial, is thirty seconds in duration and articulates a lesson from the tradition. Structured as cantos—subdivisions of an epic or narrative poem—the first lessons in the series were inspired by poet Kevin Young’s book, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness. The Grey Album is comprised of literary and cultural criticism and lyrical choruses that center black culture as American culture. Just as Young’s book moves throughout art, music, and popular culture, Syms’ Lessons consist of a plethora of found and original footage, including homemade movies, clips from 1990s talk shows, and YouTube videos.

Lesson 1

Lesson V

Lesson XXX

Lesson LXXIV

Lesson LXII

Lesson LXXIX