Cover of DUETS: Julie Ault & David Deitcher in Conversation on William Olander (Visual AIDS, 2021)
In the latest installment of Visual AIDS’s DUETS series, authors 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). Moderated by New Museum curator Vivian Crockett, this virtual discussion with Ault, Deitcher, Tom Kalin, and Brian Wallis will explore Olander’s life and legacy.
Olander’s exhibitions challenged 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 art world’s ideological functions, Olander invited members of ACT UP to design a multimedia installation for the Museum’s window on Broadway in 1987. “Let the Record Show…” was the first museum project to unflinchingly address the AIDS epidemic and the political figures who enabled it, and became the centerpiece of art historian and critic Douglas Crimp’s impassioned call for “new cultural practices” to respond to AIDS.
Julie Ault (b. 1957, Boston, Massachusetts) is an artist, curator, and writer focused on mobilizing materials and information to animate histories of activism in art. Ault’s projects include exhibitions, art writing, archiving, and historical chronicles. Ault was a co-founder of the art collaborative Group Material, active from 1979–1996. Her recent work includes “Paper Mirror: Nancy Spero” at the Museo Tamayo and MoMA PS1 (2018–19) and writings on Wang Bing, Allora & Calzadilla, and David Wojnarowicz. Ault’s publications include In Part, Writings by Julie Ault (2017), Two Cabins by James Benning (2011), Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material (2010) and Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita (2006). Ault is currently working on the forthcoming book Hidden in Plain Sight: Selected Writings of Karin Higa.
Vivian Crockett (b. 1983, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is a New Museum curator and Brazilian-American scholar focusing largely on modern and contemporary art of African diasporas, Latinx diasporas, and the Americas at the varied intersections of race, gender, and queer theory. Crockett previously worked at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), where she curated “Guadalupe Rosales: Drifting on a Memory” among other exhibitions. Prior to the DMA, Crockett was a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art and an Andrew W. Mellon Museum Research Consortium Fellow in the department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art. While in New York, she also worked on independent curatorial projects with various arts organizations, including Visual AIDS, the Leslie-Lohman Museum, and Queer | Art. A graduate of Stanford University, Crockett is currently completing her Ph.D. in art history at Columbia University. Her scholarly contributions can be found in publications from several institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Leslie-Lohman Museum; and Museu de Arte de São Paulo; among others.
David Deitcher (b. Montreal, Canada) is a writer, art historian, and critic living in New York City. His essays have appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Parkett, Village Voice, and other periodicals, as well as in numerous anthologies and monographs on artists such as Sherrie Levine, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Isaac Julien, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Deitcher is the author of Stone’s Throw (Secretary Press, 2016); Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840 –1918 (Abrams, 2001), and curator of its accompanying exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York; The Question of Equality: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America Since Stonewall (Scribner, 1995). He has been awarded two Canada Council for the Arts, Independent Critics and Curators Grants (2006, 2004), and a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2011). Deitcher was a core faculty member of the ICP/Bard College MFA Program from 2003-2020 and holds a Ph.D. from the City University of New York and an M.A. from the Institute of Fine Art at New York University.
Tom Kalin (b. 1962, Chicago, Illinois) is a screenwriter, film director, activist, and producer. He is a professor of experimental film at European Graduate School in SaasFee. He was awarded the Caligari Prize in Berlin and his film Swoon was named one of the top 100 American Independent films by the British Film Institute. Kalin won awards in the Stockholm Film Festival: Fipresci Prize (1992), NewFest: New York’s LGBT Film Festival (2002): Peter S. Reed Achievement Award, Gotham Awards: Open Palm Award (1992), Fantasporto: Directors’ Week Award (1993), Berlin International Film Festival: Teddy/Caligari Film Award (1992), and the Ashland Independent Film Festival: Pride Award (2020). Kalin holds a B.F.A in painting from the University of Illinois and a M.F.A in Photography and Video from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Brian Wallis (b. 1953) is a curator at the Walther Collection, New York and Ulm, Germany, and former Chief Curator and Deputy Director at the International Center of Photography in New York. He is the coauthor of the publications Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self; African American Vernacular Photography; and Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography. Wallis was the curator of several exhibitions at the New Museum including “Damaged Goods: Desire and the Economy of the Object” (1986) and “Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business” (1986), and was the editor of the first ground breaking anthologies published by the New Museum, Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984) and Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writings by Contemporary Artists (1987). Wallis holds a degree in Art History and is currently working on a doctorate in American Studies.
Visual AIDS is a New York-based non-profit that utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over. 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.
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