DUETS: Julie Ault & David Deitcher in Conversation on William Olander
Published by Visual AIDS, 2021
Julie Ault and David Deitcher illuminate the life and work of the influential art historian, New Museum curator, and Visual AIDS co-founder William Olander (1950–1989). Olander’s exhibitions challenged oppressive institutional boundaries, blew open dichotomies, and boldly confronted discrimination, sexual difference, and AIDS, shaping curatorial practice for decades to come.
Committed to using the New Museum as a platform to challenge the ideological functions of the art world, Olander invited members of ACT UP to design a multimedia installation for the museum’s window on Broadway in 1987. The first museum project to unflinchingly address the AIDS epidemic and the political figures who enabled it, Let the Record Show... became the centerpiece of art historian and critic Douglas Crimp’s impassioned call for “new cultural practices” to respond to AIDS.
Ault and Deitcher’s conversation offers new insights into the through-lines of Olander's career, from his graduate research on the French Revolution to exhibitions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum and his later engagement with AIDS activism.
Includes selected writings by Olander and an afterword by Kyle Croft.
DUETS is a series of publications that pairs artists, activists, writers, and thinkers in dialogues about their creative practices and current social issues related to HIV/AIDS. These engaging and highly readable conversations highlight the connections between communities of artists and activists. Drawing from the Visual AIDS Artist Registry and Archive Project, this series continues Visual AIDS’ mission to support, promote, and honor the work of artists with HIV/AIDS and the artistic contributions of the AIDS movement.
Edited by Barbara Schroder and Karen Kelly of Dancing Foxes Press and Kyle Croft and Esther McGowan of Visual AIDS
Series initiated by Nelson Santos
Book Design: Tiffany Malakooti
Printer: Die Keure, Brugge, Belgium
152pp, perfect bound softcover
7.5 x 5.5 ins.
Praise for DUETS: Julie Ault & David Deitcher in Conversation on William Olander
In this conversation between an artist and critic who bore important witness to the first decades of the AIDS crisis, Julie Ault and David Deitcher reflect on the singular and urgent nature of William Olander’s contributions. Together they testify to Olander's friendship and love of community, qualities indistinguishable from his deeply principled commitment to both activism and art.
— Pamela Lee, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Yale University
William Olander was a critical spark for the New Museum at arguably the institution's most urgent moment. His trenchant activism and erudite exhibitions made it a porous space in which a community of artists decimated by the first wave of the AIDS crisis found the forum necessary to champion social aesthetics and reshape the public discourse around the epidemic. This long overdue publication provides an intimate and comprehensive overview by two of Olander's distinguished fellow travelers and revives a potent cultural voice that was silenced too soon.
— Stuart Comer, Chief Curator of Media and Performance, Museum of Modern Art