Amanda Lynch works with collage in all its forms: digital, analog, assemblage, sculpture, and interactive works. Her work explores social engagement and practice within community-based projects, with an emphasis on her own personal experiences with disability and social politics. Through her use of humor, play, and a flair for the unexpected, she creates art as a means for the viewer to digest, breakdown and understand her experiences.
Access Denied is a prime example of how Lynch experiments with translating her particular reality to a wider public; in this instance, the reality of coping with changes in accessibility at different stages throughout the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, as arts venues were seeking ways to continue sharing their art with audiences unable to be physically in a space, there was a huge uptick in overall access when the majority of these venues shifted their platforms to be available online. Previously inaccessible works could be viewed online by millions from their homes, including those who, even pre-pandemic, were not always able to take advantage of seeing them live. As the world has shifted back to “normal,” access to these various arts organizations has reverted back to solely “in-person”. For those in the disability community, those who are considered high-risk, and those who have a heightened vulnerability to Covid, “in-person” events are not only infeasible, but dangerous.
In searching for ways to make this concept relatable to viewers who may not have been affected directly by it, or are even aware that it is an issue, Lynch discovered she could play with a similar, more common frustration that anyone with internet access has to battle with on a regular basis: website cookies.
“Access Denied consists of 10 layers of movable panels…each revealing a different image or stage…I have included elements from our everyday digital world that we have all experienced, such as the numerous cookies we accept or not, or the various pop-up windows that get frustratingly in the way…[in order to] make a work that isn’t easily accessible. You have things you have to do in order to get to the final image. My aim with this work is to explore the notion of access within a digital art setting, making the active participant work to finally reach an image of access denied.”
The viewer is forced to interact with this piece in a way that deepens their annoyance the more involved they become, but every frustration is cushioned not only by the barrage of playful jokes, but by the sheer ridiculousness of difficulty in trying to reach the “end.” Rather than trying to outrage or provoke her viewers, Lynch gently pokes at them until they’re nudged into the pure exasperation that she and others in the disabled population endure as they reckon with a world built on an often unacknowledged ableism.