Alex de Leon The question begs: What to do with art that makes avid if not heavy-handed political statements in an era so eager to wrest itself from the rant, screed and morality inherently connected with political art? Is it the responsibility of art to engender social revolution, much less social consciousness? Do we care? These are the questions instigated by Alex de Leon's miniature city of wayward form made from placards the artist has bought from homeless people. In de Leon's hands the desperate, hand-written scrawls of the homeless--"Will work for food," "Homeless veteran," "Need help, God bless you"--become the writing on the walls of a small town. At the head of the town sits a church, also fashioned from homeless placards, that focuses our attention on the phrase "God bless you" recurrent throughout the small installation. This is a small installation that will make you think. Through June 12 at the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, 2801 Swiss Ave., 214-821-2522. Reviewed May 6.
Cast: Photographs by Jin-Ya Huang In her photographs, Jin-Ya Huang turns fuzziness and blur into a visual vocabulary of the indecipherable. The illegibility of her images is by no means frustrating. The combined result of the artist's secret prop choices and photo-digital process, these images will keep you guessing while visually enthralled by their beauty. Is "Vortex" her pudenda or a flower? Is "Circuit" the vertebral column of a robot or miniature television sets on fire? Through July 10 at Mulcahy Modern, 408 W. Eighth St., 214-948-8595. Reviewed June 3.
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Concentrations 44: Matthew Buckingham, "A Man of the Crowd" Matthew Buckingham's film work is an exercise in refracted perception. The piece consists of photographs and film in two adjacent rooms. The juxtaposing of somber black-and-white photographs and the pyrotechnics of film installed according to the architecture of video installation makes an otherwise cloying and nostalgic piece interesting. The film installation takes place in a long, rectangular gallery where a loop runs, also in black-and-white, of two men perambulating through Vienna, one in pursuit of the other. Bisecting the space is a two-sided mirror that deflects and refracts the film projection onto the facing wall. Onlookers are intended to become pedestrians on the streets of Vienna as through bodily interaction your shadow becomes part of the piece. Basing the work on Edgar Allan Poe's "Man in the Crowd," Buckingham renegotiates timeworn and obsolete themes of alienation and urban life in the 20th century. Through June 20 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 214-922-1200. Reviewed April 8.