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On December 14, 2012, high school students from across New York City gathered at the Whitney for a teens-only celebration of the Sinister Pop exhibition. Activities included a Youth Insights-led tour of the works on view, a 1960s makeup station filled with Edie Sedgwick-worthy fake eyelashes and liquid liner, and plenty of snacks. The highlight of the evening was an exclusive screening of Andy Warhol films and a talk by Whitney Curatorial Assistant Claire Henry. Youth Insights Leaders planned the evening’s events and had previously met with Henry during a special session to hear her perspective on the films of Andy Warhol and to select the film excerpts that would highlight Warhol’s work and complement the evening’s focus on both the aesthetics and “sinister” side of the 1960s.
As teen guests arrived, YI Leaders led them to the fifth floor, where a fun 1960s makeup tutorial awaited. Once everyone was appropriately costumed, the Leaders took them on a tour of the show, pointing out the exhibition’s emphasis on the “darker side” of Pop art. Following the tour, teens watched rare films by Warhol, such as a selection of his screen tests, including Ann Buchanan (1964), who tried so hard to follow Warhol’s instructions not to blink that she ended up crying—and ,and an excerpt from Poor Little Rich Girl (1965). As the films played, Whitney Curatorial Assistant Claire Henry spoke about their history and significance. The teen audience responded with questions for Henry about Warhol’s life, the context of the films, enigmatic, tragic Warhol muse and Factory regular Edie Sedgwick’s history, and much more. As teens munched on pizza and popcorn, the conversation flowed—lasting even after the final frame of film flickered across the screen.
By Correna Cohen, Youth Insights Fellow