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ART

DIANA SHPUNGIN & NICOLE ENGELMANNTheir video work is not quite ready for prime time, their photographs are blurry video stills, and the installation leaves much to be desired. But after all, they only graduated from SVA last year, and already their first slaphappy video has been imprinted on our memory. Now they go through their latest paces in "Routine." Flopping four interchangeable legs over the back of a tufted sofa, bouncing on each other's laps, or feeding one another sloppy spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate pudding, they leave us to draw conclusions about the mutual game of collaboration, codependency, role reversal, and the satisfaction of behavioral tricks. THROUGH APRIL 19, Arena, 526 West 26th Street, 646-734-2261. (Levin)

TYPE ATranslating formerly smart art moves (minimalism, conceptualism, earthworks) into pure dumb physicality, this duo use their own bodies in art-related ways to make points about opposing territories, shared space, competition, dependency, and comic masculinity. In Mark, an impressive projection, they act as protractors, templates, and erasers, drawing chalk circles and marks on a floor. Pointrestates the old hand-and-knife game as a video triptych. Stand, a group of photos, levels their playing field (in terms of weight and height) with sand, bricks, and a makeshift seesaw. Simple on the surface, the works exude arcane references stretching from Pollock to Polanski. THROUGH APRIL 15, Sara Meltzer, 516 West 20th Street, 212-727-9330. (Levin)

Remote control: tune in for another perspective on "War Culture," including Ward Sutton's "That’s Entertainment" (see open city).
illlustration: Ward Sutton
Remote control: tune in for another perspective on "War Culture," including Ward Sutton's "That’s Entertainment" (see open city).

DANCE

EIFMAN BALLETBoris Eifman's St. Petersburg-based troupe has torn passion to tatters in fraught biographical ballets about monstrous men and fragile women. He veers sharply from such scenarios in his new, comic Who's Who, derived from Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot. In his high-tech Russian version we have ballet dancers—pursued by gangsters—who don drag and go to work in a nightclub, and music ranging from Ellington, Strayhorn, and Count Basie to Samuel Barber and Sergey Rachmaninoff. FRIDAY AND TUESDAY AT 8, SATURDAY AT 3 AND 8, SUNDAY AT 3, AND APRIL 9 THROUGH 20, City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212. (Zimmer)

RISA JAROSLOW & DANCERSJaroslow's Strings Attached explores the world of female string players in professional orchestras, and the progress they've made since the '60s, when they were first allowed entry into previously all-male precincts. Perry Gunther's set is itself a stringed instrument, capable of producing sound. Diedre Murray, a jazz cellist, composed the score, which will be played live. Completing the bill is Fidl, set to traditional and new klezmer tunes by Alicia Svigals of the Klezmatics. WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, AND SATURDAY AT 8 AND SUNDAY AT 3, the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, 212-415-5552. (Zimmer)

FILM

'CHAIN TIMES THREE'Jem Cohen's politically sharp films usually avoid logo-laden environments in favor of nostalgic, decaying regionalia, but for his ongoing Chain project, he documents the faceless "super-landscape" head-on, creating a melancholy global study of disorientingly similar, anonymous corporate spaces. Chain Times Three is a onetime theatrical version, presented as a triple-screen 16mm movie driven by Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s ominous, discordant score. FRIDAY AT 6, MOMA at the Gramercy, 127 East 23rd Street, 212-777-4900. (Halter)

'THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST'Aki Kaurismäki's celebration of lower-depths esprit is a deadpan comic romance with a tragic lyricism as tense and spare as any '50s B. If the sardonic tone is ultimately muted by sentimentality, Kaurismäki's deepest feelings are reserved for cinema. The mise-en-scène never falters; the sight gags are perfectly uninflected. This is a movie of sustained stylistic integrity—and it has the power to make you laugh. OPENS FRIDAY, Lincoln Plaza, Broadway and 62nd Street, 212-757-2280. (Hoberman)

'THE NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL'The 10th edition of this popular festival features work from Chad, Ghana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe; the highlight is a mid-career retro of Mali's best-known filmmaker, Abderrahmane Sissako, whose rueful, chastely gorgeous ode to third-world rootlessness, Waiting for Happiness, is running daily throughout the festival. OPENS SATURDAY, THROUGH APRIL 10, Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 212-875-5600. (Hoberman)

'THAI TAKES'Thailand's most expensive movie ever (the historical Suriyothai, out this summer) and its premier art-house star, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours), are conspicuously absent. But this mini-showcase for Southeast Asia's most robust film culture fills in the middle ground nicely, with several shorts programs and a pair of recent fest-circuit hits: Pen-ek Ratanaruang's dulcet country musical comedy, Mon-Rak Transistor, and Mingmonkol Sonakul's oddball valentine to Thai radio soaps, I-San Special. THURSDAY THROUGH SUNDAY, Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, 212-288-6400. (Lim)

MUSIC

COMMONCommon's most maddening trait to some is also his most endearing to others: his unapologetic earnestness. Some wrangle over his wearing of obvious black bohemian influences on his tie-dyed sleeve (blame Erykah!), but what drives his latest, Electric Circus, is an honest exploration of personal shortcomings and musical ambitions. Along with mentor Questlove, he even made Stereolab work in a hip-hop context—before Pharrell! SUNDAY AT 6:45, Roseland, 239 West 52nd Street, 212-777-6800. (Patel)

THE D4+ELECTRIC SIXDanger! Hyped Detroit dance-punk band with White Stripes connections. Danger! Hit single in Britain. High voltage! They sing about starting a nuclear war in a gay bar. Danger! Man with saxophone approaching. Danger! Hit is a disco song. High voltage! If Electric Six, who are funnier, catchier, more interesting, and just plain better than New Zealand garage rock lame-os the D4 haven't been switched to the headlining slot by Monday night, I'm holding a walk-out in protest. With Candys. MONDAY AT 8:30, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Phillips)

'FIRST SIGHT IMPROVISATION WEEKEND: AVANTJAZZ AGAINST AN IRAQI WAR'The long title signals something of a preamble to the "Visions Festival" as William Parker and Patricia Nicholson convene Yoshiko Chuma, Frank London, Rob Brown, Joe McPhee, and others to stand against the land grab in Iraq. For the first set on both evenings, Nicholson introduces her new company, PaNic, and for the second, Parker reunites for the first time in nearly a year his 15-piece Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8 AND 9:45 AND SUNDAY AT 5 AND 6:45, the Center, 268 Mulberry Street, 212-226-0513. (Giddins)

TERRY GIBBSThe Russian-born pianist Eugene Maslov will lead an opening (or is that intermission?) trio, which hardly seems necessary, because Gibbs's rare return to New York—in support of his new CD tribute to Lionel Hampton, From Me to You (Mack)—is a fairly star-studded affair, with David "Fathead" Newman, Joey De Francesco, Howard Alden, and Gerry Gibbs. Known for his great L.A. big band of the late '50s, his long-running TV sidekick work with Steve Allen, his quintet with Buddy DeFranco, and his speed and swing on the vibes, Gibbs is nearing 80, and his pleasure in revisiting Hampton's signature classics is palpable. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 8:30 AND 10:30, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ALSO AT MIDNIGHT, Iridium, 1650 Broadway, 212-582-2121. (Giddins)

GOLD CHAINSCall it dork 'n' bass. San Francisco's Gold Chains sports the Al Franken-meets-biophysics-grad-student look and has made a name with two EPs of post-ironic bass satire. His forthcoming album is a bit tighter-lipped, but still thumps. Onstage, the man nods his head with more force than anyone I've ever seen, which sometimes makes me think he's overcompensating, but certainly seems to motivate the ladies far more than someone who looks like him has any right to. Also: Starlight Mints and PS. FRIDAY AT 8:30, Mercury Lounge, 217 East Houston Street, 212-260-4700. (Caramanica)

TIM MCGRAW & THE DANCEHALL DOCTORSOn Tim's third, if not fourth, excellent suburban midlife-crisis concept album in a row, his touring band finally gets fine-print billing. Forget country; by now this is classic California studio rock. Quick rundown of top tracks: revolutionary fife-and-drum riddims, Cuervo going down nice and slow, best Matchbox 20 song ever, best Eagles and Jackson Browne songs in ages, a pro-choice hit that ranks with "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and Loretta's "The Pill" in Nashville's birth-control hall of fame, a goofily reactionary rant that disses The Village Voice by name, and a cover of a famous Almost Famous song that enunciates better than Elton ever did. I truly believe now that "Tiny Dancer" is about Faith Hill. WEDNESDAY AT 8, Continental Airlines Arena, 50 Route 120, Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 201-935-3900. (Eddy)

NOTWISTThese Munich sprocketers have made unique muzik since the mid '90s, when they were covering Robert Palmer's Gary Numan tributes while mixing Metallica and Pavement into gargantuan math-metal. Once the foursome calmed down and embraced techno-glitch, quietness-fetishizing Web critics deemed their import-till-now Neon Golden a cult classic. They're hardly the new Can, but "Pick Up the Phone" is as sad a song as you'll hear. And they have the prettiest Kraut accents. Friday with James Yorkston, Saturday with the Burnside Project. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 10, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3006. (Eddy)

YEAH YEAH YEAHSJust say No No No. O, she's rich all right. Fever to Tell is more overheated junk-punk crash-bash, howl-'n'-hoot, banshee nonsense. Just what we were hoping for. And more songful too. A couple times the slink gets a little too Peaches for our cream, but live, these new rattle-riffs will twist you out again like they did last summer (and the one before). We're all gonna burn in hell, so come on and let Karen O take you standing up. With Cause for Applause. THURSDAY AT 10, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Sinagra)

OPEN CITY

'WAR CULTURE'Give pieces a chance! An army of performance artists, choreographers, comedians, animators, and others invades Judson Church for a free, one-night-only mixture of live, filmed, installed, hung, animated, portrayed, and played art focusing on—what else?—war. It's the first of what's planned to be a multidisciplinary series called "stART," presented quarterly and zooming in on a particular issue through art, dance, music, spoken word, and multimedia theater. Organizers include Voice cartoonist Ward Sutton. Among the featured artists are animator Robert Smigel, performance artists Zeroboy and Martha Wilson, and cartoonist Peter Kuper. Visual and installation works will remain on display, for free, Friday through Sunday afternoons. THURSDAY AT 7, Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, 212-477-0351. (Harkavy)

PHOTO

GAIL ALBERT-HALABANThese handsome color photos of thirtysomething women at their leisure in L.A. recall the work of Tina Barney, Lauren Greenfield, and Tierney Gearon, so their combination of glossy artificiality and bland naturalism feels awfully familiar. Even if Albert-Halaban doesn't stage her tableaux of career gals getting pedicures, attending pottery workshops, playing Scrabble, and trying on shoes, her pictures have the distinct sense of oblivious unreality that privilege conveys. The intent may not be satirical, but Albert-Halaban's pampered, pretty women are too self-absorbed to elicit sympathy, and she's smart enough to reserve judgment. THROUGH APRIL 12, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, 120 Eleventh Avenue, 212-414-2770. (Aletti)

GARY SCHNEIDERHis enormous portraits—his first in color—are made in the dark over a period of time, during which Schneider illuminates his subject's face bit by bit with a tiny, constantly moving flashlight (reflected in the eyes as galaxies in miniature). What results is the opposite of Thomas Ruff's hyper-realist headshots, not just because Schneider's sitters emerge like specters from the darkest night, but because their slightest movement is recorded as a Picasso-like melting of features. Yet even the most distorted and masklike faces feel extraordinarily, poignantly present—an illusion as compelling as it is transparent. THROUGH APRIL 19, Julie Saul Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, 212-627-2410. (Aletti)

THEATER

'SHE STOOPS TO COMEDY'Writer-director-actor David Greenspan's new work puts a new super-spin on Shakespeare's already gender-bent As You Like It: An actress (played by Greenspan) schemes to win back her ex-lover by playing Orlando to his Rosalind. In other words, boy plays girl playing boy, opposite girl playing boy who plays girl . . . who plays boy. Gynecologists are requested to keep their cell phones turned off during the performance. Greenspan's onstage colleagues include Mia Barron, T. Ryder Smith, and the eminent E. Katherine Kerr. PREVIEWS BEGIN THURSDAY, Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, 212-629-8510. (Feingold)

'STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS'Your typical American sitcom family may not look so typical in the hands of playwright Adam Rapp, the new generation's nihilist chronicler of exurbia. In his version, Mom works double shifts, Dad's forever on the couch recuperating, Junior's a super-solitary computer whiz, and dropout Sis lives on the streets, visiting occasionally to steal something worth hocking. Will a trip to NYC save this family? Probably not in any way that makes our tourist bureau happy. Carolyn Cantor's production for Edge Theater Company features Betsy Aidem, Guy Boyd, Gretchen Cleevely, and Matt Stadelmann, at least three of whom have trekked through the family insanities of prior playwrights, and should hence be ready for Rapp's. IN PREVIEWS, OPENS MONDAY, Chashama Theatre, 135 West 42nd Street, 212-206-1515. (Feingold)

'TALKING HEADS'Playwright Alan Bennett's gallery of English eccentrics initially tooted their solo horns as a TV series, but were so juicily actable that they found their way onto the British stage. A batch of them duly found their way to L.A., where director Michael Engler (responsible for some jolly romps on and off Broadway before he was engulfed by television) marshaled them into the current assemblage: six monologues that play in alternating programs of three each. For New York, Engler's rounded up a castful of exactly the kind of strong actors we don't see onstage often enough: Kathleen Chalfant, Daniel Davis, Christine Ebersole, Valerie Mahaffey, Lynn Redgrave, and Brenda Wehle. IN PREVIEWS, OPENS APRIL 6, Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, 212-307-4100. (Feingold)

WORDS

'THE PSA FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN POETS'Two evenings, 20 poets—you could do verse. Double-dippers can, e.g., experience both David Berman's virtuoso aphasia ("I am not a cub scout seduced by Iron Maiden's mirror worlds") and Rachel Zucker's reimagined Persephone ("He gives me the wedding band of the real world/a story with pockets and mirrors"). Others in this lavishly gifted gathering include Timothy Donnelly, Matthea Harvey, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Rebecca Wolff; four of the score are the PSA's inaugural Chapbook Fellows. TUESDAY AT 7:30 AND APRIL 9, Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street, 212-254-9628. (Park)<!— This document created using BeyondPress(TM) 4.0.1 For Macintosh —>

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