The artist Ricci Albenda, whose 1998 exhibition at Andrew Kreps was his breakthrough, has in his curatorial debut attempted an ambitious exercise that inverts normal operations by considering art objects not for their content but rather for how they take up space. With a program of four shows in two months, Albenda is now past the midpoint in his series; the third segment runs through Saturday, the fourth opens February 18. The title for the series, “Answer Yes, No, or Don’t Know,” only begins to hint at the destabilizing peculiarities of the curator’s endeavor.
Albenda has taken the truism of the modern gallery as clean white cube and analyzed the cube as a geometric solid. For the first, comparatively simple show, “Quadrants,” Wade Guyton built an impressive 16-by-15-foot parquet dance floor raised five feet off the ground to completely fill his quarter of the room. Hiroshi Sunairi turned his quarter into a den of seduction for those turned on to his epicene Japanese pop-star looks. In part two, “Layers,” Albenda envisioned the gallery as a room-size pousse-café, with each artist’s work occupying a different strata. Rob Pruitt dropped a blank, shiny cartoon speech balloon from the ceiling, aptly illustrating its title, God Says Nothing, while Lisa Hein and Bob Seng used down-pointing halogen lights to incorporeally fill their assigned layer.
Part three, “Transparency,” moves from simple geometries to the complexity of overlaid semitransparent elements, such as Kelley Walker’s striped wooden wall that slides on a baroquely curvaceous track amid Amy Gartrell’s scattered Day-Glo wall mushrooms. But a higher register of insanity will be reached in part four, when Albenda will reinstall the previous three shows one on top of the other. If we can manage to wedge ourselves into the gallery during those final days, the cumulative effect of his ways of reconsidering the space should deliver some seriously revelatory fun.