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.
Praise for DUETS: Julie Ault & David Deitcher in Conversation on William Olander
"Julie Ault and David Deitcher 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. 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
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.
Published by Visual AIDS, 20 × 15 cm, Softcover, 2022, 978-1-7326415-4-9