Although the Tenth Avenue gallery's shattered-glass front door resulted from an accident, it lends a Duchampian celebration of chance to Alejandro Almanza Pereda's exhibition. Born in Mexico, the artist was educated in Texas, and his sculptures can conjure thoughts of El Norte's stability versus the volatility found south of the border. Almanza's precarious constructions delve beneath such simple clichés, however, as in his tower of glass boxes enclosing an incongruous mix of items, including axes, paper lanterns, splattered cement, and U.S. currency. Danger lurks within elegance: The tumbled bricks filling one modular unit combine with a bundle of cash to summon visions of undocumented laborers toiling to erect luxury skyscrapers, OSHA regs be damned. Almanza's work delivers the thrill of materials pushed to their physical limits. In Magnan's West 28th Street space, a huge snarl of heavy chain hangs from a rafter like a menacing chandelier, its shiny bulk challenging the load-bearing capacity of a single link. As with Richard Serra's torqued steel slabs, you can appreciate the brusquely fetching aesthetics even as you contemplate the potentially crushing weight. Nearby, a water-filled aquarium perched atop tall steel struts contains a sledgehammer buoyed by Christmas balls. Unlike Jeff Koons's floating basketballs, there's humor here, a giddy equipoise between the glass vessel and the means of its own destruction. Visceral, absurd, and diceyjust the art our age deserves.
Thu., Oct. 23, 11 a.m.; Fri., Oct. 24, 11 a.m.; Sat., Oct. 25, 11 a.m., 2008