Capsule Reviews

Concentrations 46: Zones of Dissolution Escapism can often provide the most direct path to reality. In his three-room installation, Daniel Roth pops the escape hatch, leading us to a reality that is bifurcated--equal parts fantasy and factuality. Roth works in a variety of media, including drawing, photography, sculpture and architecture, in order to convey scant messages of nature lost and found. Titled "Cabrini Green Forest," the first portion of the installation is in two rooms, one through which you enter normally and the other a makeshift space that forces submission upon entry. Because of the adjacent room's small door (roughly 5 feet in height), one must bow to enter as though crossing the daunting threshold of a medieval prison. With faint drawings on the walls of trees shunting underneath and atop an invisible ground plane next to the cold pragmatism of architectural plans, Roth combines the fantasy of an underground forest with the reality of incarceration. Along the wall of the short corridor leading to the final space of the installation is "Die Stimme," or "The Voice" in English, the second portion of Zones of Dissolution. The primary vehicles in this provocatively disparate gathering of objects is a letter from the World War I battlefront written in German and the mid-sized drawing of a skull cut and pierced by architectural fragments. In the back room is Roth's paean to local culture, "Lost Arms in a Crystal World." One finds there a postcard, two photographs, a large quasi-surrealist drawing suggestive of the Dallas skyline (the best of the exhibition), and interior architecture in the form of a red-brick pier with large plastic bull horns sprouting from the top and a red-brick cubicle cut away from the wall. On the floor is a stuffed red fox pierced by thin crystal wedges. Foggy though it may be, Roth's message here is one concerning the perverse "nature" of Dallas--that it is manufactured and native all at once. Roth's work is contemporary and à la mode in its porous and patchy Conceptualism and hoary and wise in its portentous Romanticism. Through April 10 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St., 214-922-1200. Reviewed February 3. (Charissa N. Terranova)