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ART

JOSIAH MCELHENY The historical theories behind "Theories About Reflection," which range from Athanasius Kircher's experiments in the geometry of illusion to Buckminster Fuller's proposal to Noguchi for an abstraction of total reflection, are invisible to the naked eye. But McElheny's latest quicksilver glassworks in mirrored chrome or aluminum vitrines are spectacularly quixotic displays. Never mind that the conceptual underpinnings are less seductive than the impeccable reflective objects. Luminous and transcendent in the second gallery, Modernity, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely could carry this show all alone. THROUGH APRIL 19, Brent Sikkema, 530 West 22nd Street, 212-929-2262. (Levin)

WILLIAM WEGMAN Once again, Wegman pulls off the old switcheroo: He turns the ridiculous into the sublime. Fabulously illogical and brilliantly synthetic, his two big panoramic paintings and several small ones run riffs around vintage postcards of vacation paradises and tourist sites. Mementos of picturesque grottoes, bridges, seashores, ski slopes, cog railways, thatched roofs, and Hugo the happy killer whale expand into dizzying archipelagoes, Möbius loops, and twisted globalized vistas. The Far West merges with the Far East, and Wall Street meets the Wailing Wall in tunneling, careening space. The results are both mind-bending and visually glorious. THROUGH SATURDAY, Sperone Westwater, 415 West 13th Street, 212-999-7337. (Levin)

Reunited and it feels so good: Byrne and Leichter perform Thursday and Friday at symphony space (see dance).
photo: B. McCormick
Reunited and it feels so good: Byrne and Leichter perform Thursday and Friday at symphony space (see dance).

DANCE

BILL YOUNG AND DANCERS Dancers from California, Florida, and North Carolina join others from Guyana, Venezuela, Albania, Cape Verde, and Greece on the roster of Young's lush, athletic, physically interdependent ensemble, now in its 20th year of delighting international audiences. New to New York is Rein, Bellow, inspired by Gabriel García Marquez and with a score by Philip Hamilton. Completing the program is the fast-paced Bent, to a techno-mix by Mio Morales. WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, AND SATURDAY AT 8 AND SUNDAY AT 2 AND 7, the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, 212-415-5552. (Zimmer)

NICHOLAS LEICHTER & CLARE BYRNE They met at Connecticut College a dozen years ago, and both subsequently formed troupes; Byrne danced in Leichter's ensemble for six years. They reunite for an evening of nostalgia and experiment. On this bill, performed in front of the Thalia's screen, the two choreographers offer each other's solos and duets, to Tchaikovsky, Lauryn Hill, and Mariah Carey tunes, plus a new collaborative work to a duet by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. THURSDAY AND FRIDAY AT 8:30, Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400. (Zimmer)

FILM

'THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD: CLASSIC AND CONTEMPORARY SWISS CINEMA' There's a pleasing mix of vintage and new, features and docs, in this celebration of films from the heart of Europe, which includes rarities from the local cinematheque and an example of pre-Italian neo-realism. Alain Tanner is much in evidence, as is his post-World War II precursor, Leopold Lindtberg. The documentaries Mutter, Forget Baghdad, and Escape to Paradise all evoke Switzerland's paradoxical position as international refuge. OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH MAY 1, Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 212-875-5600. (Hoberman)

'MUHAMMAD ALI, THE GREATEST' You can see the '60s dawn in the pop art first half of William Klein's superbly entertaining documentary, which concerns the former Cassius Clay's upset victories over Sonny Liston. Shot 10 years later, the second half shows Ali regaining his title for the second time, beating George Foreman in Zaire. This is by far the most evocative movie ever made about Ali; it's being revived for the first time in years in a new 35mm print. FRIDAY THROUGH APRIL 24, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212-727-8110. (Hoberman)

'THE TEXT OF LIGHT' William Blake found eternity in a grain of sand; in an astonishing film at once concrete and abstract, Stan Brakhage filmed the world through the prism of a clunky glass ashtray to produce this feature-length 1974 masterpiece. There's nothing to "read" in The Text of Light except a totally other way of making a movie. SUNDAY, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 212-505-5181. (Hoberman)

MUSIC

ROBERT ASHLEY Old people—a community so marginalized it doesn't even have a future to look forward to—are the subject of Ashley's "Celestial Excursions," which has its domestic premiere tonight. America's most inventive and ambitious opera composer seamlessly interweaves several natural-language recitatives (performed by Thomas Buckner, Sam Ashley, and Joan La Barbara, among others), pop-song nostalgia, pre-recorded electronics, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny's homey piano playing into what should be a witty, moving, and densely textured meditation on aging, memory, and the great unknown. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 8, the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 212-255-5793. (Gehr)

CAROLINER RAINBOW Conceivably insane nutjobs from Frisco around for almost 20 years, comparable to Sun City Girls in their fucked-up beauty, collectors-only releases, mysterious identities, and anti-audiophile antics. One of 'em, who goes by the moniker Timber Amplifier, complained in an online interview that "there is no station locally that will respond to our requests for entire Dock Boggs LPs, demonstration of early American electronics/instruments, Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain LPs, and sounds of train routes across the U.S." Which pretty well defines their noise perimeters, except with babies' mouths full of sand and staples squeaking Butthole Surfers oldies mixed in. They haven't toured in centuries, almost. And when they do, they bring some terrifying props. With Nautical Almanac & Carlos Giffoni and Ortho. THURSDAY AT 9, Northsix, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-5103. (Eddy)

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