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The theme of “ACCESS: Art,” the latest online exhibition from the Boston Center for the Arts curated by Amanda Contrada, is art’s availability to everyone. It’s also a document of the pandemic era.

Cindy Lu’s Franklin Park installation “Appearance of Quiescence,” documented in photographs here, confronts divisions exacerbated by COVID-19 and hate speech. Lu wrapped a favorite bench in parafilm, a plastic used in labs, as if to protect a relic of community gatherings. To manipulate the parafilm in cold weather, she had to breathe on it — a radical public act for an Asian-American. The black-and-white images are by turns intimate and chilling.

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Cindy Lu's "Appearance of Quiescence," 2020.
Cindy Lu's "Appearance of Quiescence," 2020.Courtesy Cindy Lu

Grappling with isolation imposed by COVID-19, choreographer Callie Chapman brought dancers together by recording individual performances and digitally manipulating the video. “[Blend],” a shimmering collection of those dances, is dreamlike and full of yearning, with references to touch that don’t quite meet reality.

Not all the work is COVID-centered. Photographer Hector René Membreño-Canales photographs the plinths of eradicated monuments: The statue of Lincoln and a kneeling Black man removed from Park Square last December, the Robert E. Lee statue taken down in Richmond, Va.

From Hector René Membreño-Canale's "After Ozymandias" series, 2021.
From Hector René Membreño-Canale's "After Ozymandias" series, 2021.Courtesy Hector René Membreño-Canale

Membreño-Canales titles the series “After-Ozymandias,” a nod to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet about ruins found in Egypt. “And on the pedestal, these words appear:/ My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/ Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” yet all around is empty desert. We memorialize power, but the world shifts, the demi-gods tumble, and we’re left hungry for icons. Graffiti over the Lee statue’s plinth hints at a new society rising.

Basil El Halwagy’s “Fine Art Superheroes” wear spectacular costumes and headdresses rooted in ancient archetypes and patterns, crafted to meet present-day conflicts. Photographs capture them at Boston festivals pre-COVID. Blue and white stars and hexagrams from an Egyptian mosque emblazon Electrostar’s costume. Remon wears Arabic calligraphy with only one legible glyph: “No.”

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This exhibition investigates how we impose, accommodate, and subvert “no.” Access is about privilege — who is welcome and whose stories we tell. “ACCESS: Art” recognizes that our stories and our tools for telling them are always changing, and that shoring up privilege by blocking access is maybe not the best survival strategy.

ACCESS: Art

Online at Boston Center for the Arts through May 30.www.bostonarts.org


Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.