By: Kim Minutella
On December 10th, 1966, Andy Warhol and his band, The Velvet Underground, flipped the city of Philadelphia upside-down at The Arts Council of the Young Men’s and Women’s Hebrew Association (now known as the Gershman Y) with Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Fifty years ago this month, the infamous multimedia performance astounded and alarmed audiences by its psychedelic sound, flashing lights, and provocative dancing. At the time, Exploding Plastic received mixed reviews from critics and the public—although it achieved the “cult hit” status, the performance sparked a big wave in the rock and roll community and would influence the wild stage presence of rock concerts for years to come.
Now at the Gershman Y, Exploding Plastic Inevitable returns for its 50th anniversary in Philadelphia with an exhibition curated by none other than InLiquid artist Cheryl Harper. The exhibition, Underground Nights: When Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable Met the Y, contains a collection of memorabilia, footage, and photographs of Warhol and The Velvet Underground by photographer Sam Moskovitz.
For art and music history enthusiasts as well as fans of The Velvet Underground, the exhibition Underground Nights is a time traveling experience: the walls are covered in large photographs of Warhol and The Velvet Underground in action. Through newspaper clippings, personal letters, original posters, music, and a performance from the band captured on film, the exhibition is a library that unearths an endless amount of rare information from the underground.
With Harper’s curated collection, it’s like being taken back-stage to meet the band, as you get an inside look at some of the struggles that Warhol and The Velvet Underground had endured for their controversial performance choices. Not only are you taken back-stage during the show, but you also get access to front-row seats in a mini bean-bag chair theater, where you can enjoy footage of The Velvet Underground performing Exploding Plastic.
Underground Nights: When Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable Met the Y is only on stage at the Gershman Y until January 4th. The exhibition is free and open to the public. No TARDIS necessary for time travel.