Olander Reading

Alex Fialho reads for Day With(out) Art 2013 from ACT UP text in tribute to Visual AIDS co-founder William Olander, in front of the former site of the New Museum where Olander curated Gran Fury's "Let The Record Show..." display

Visual AIDS is excited to announce our new Programs Manager, Alex Fialho. He brings a rich and diverse history of contemporary art to the organization, and a fresh perspective to issues surrounding HIV/AIDS today. We know that Alex will help raise the bar as Programs Manager, as Visual AIDS continues to work with longtime friends while building new communities.

From Alex:

I could not be more thrilled to join the staff at Visual AIDS as Programs Manager. Like many of us, for years I have deeply valued the essential work of Visual AIDS, using art to provoke dialogue around the ongoing issues and legacy surrounding HIV/AIDS as well as supporting HIV+ artists.

On the day that marked my first time collaborating on a program for Visual AIDS—December 1, 2013—I found myself shouting in a SILENCE=DEATH t-shirt on the corner of Broadway and Prince Street. December 1 marks the annual World AIDS Day, and I had coordinated a tribute walk for Visual AIDS’ Day With(out) Art. The walk revisited the former addresses of five notable artists and creatives who had died of AIDS-related complications: Joe Brainard, Keith Haring, William Olander, Cookie Mueller, and Marsha P. Johnson. For the tribute walk, I invited artists and curators to read from the writings and projects of each figure on the doorstep of their former address or workplace, activating these intimate locations in our very own urban backyard. 583 Broadway was the former location of the New Museum, where the late Visual AIDS co-founder and New Museum curator William Olander (1951–1989) enlisted ACT UP to mount its first large-scale public installation Let The Record Show... in 1987. At this site twenty-six years later, in order to be heard by the crowd of fifty commemorating tribute walkers over the bustling SoHo shoppers, I had to shout the ACT UP statistics from 1987 that previously read from an LED display in the installation’s window: “THE PENTAGON SPENDS IN ONE DAY MORE THAN THE GOVERNMENT SPENT IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS FOR AIDS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION. BY THANKSGIVING 1986, 22,737 DEAD FROM AIDS. NO WORD FROM THE PRESIDENT. ACT UP FIGHT BACK FIGHT AIDS.”

This outspoken moment provides a sense of the spirit and stakes of my programming ambition for Visual AIDS. I am deeply invested in art and visual culture as they relate to intergenerational causes of social justice and activism. My recent projects—screening films by Gregg Bordowitz, Barbara Hammer, Jim Hubbard, Tom Kalin, Rashaad Newsome and Ira Sachs for Dirty Looks NYC; co-curating the exhibition SAFE SEX BANG, a show of safe(r) sex posters at the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco; and coordinating additional Last Address tribute walks—have focused on HIV/AIDS, its metaphors, and its representation and display in artistic practice. An attention to site-specificity and the often-overlooked, queer history of everyday environments has been a particular focus. These projects have facilitated conversations around both the history and immediacy of the epidemic, utilizing art to maintain HIV/AIDS visibility, consider its legacy, and galvanize contemporary response.

On a personal level, I have found a home in the cultural community that surrounds Visual AIDS. From casual drop-ins at the Visual AIDS office, to annual events like Postcards from the Edge and Day With(out) Art, my experiences with the staff, artist members, and collaborating circles that produce and take pride in Visual AIDS programming has created a fabulous family for me. I am sincerely looking forward to developing existing programs and envisioning new ones in order to continue the work of my favorite arts organization in New York City.

Please help us welcome Alex Fialho to Visual AIDS - stop by the Visual AIDS office to say hello or drop him a line at: afialho@visualAIDS.org