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ART

DONNA MOYLANSlipping between abstraction and representation, her work always went its own way with an intriguing painterly intelligence. Now, in a new series of "Paintings on a Theme," she gets the mood of the moment absolutely right. It's not quite fair to say these works are about terror, destruction, global strife, and desert warfare, because they're not really about anything except the miracles of color and the mysteries of the painted plane. But Moylan's paintings on wood veneer panels—desolate, steaming, whorled mirages infiltrated by tiny lost soldiers, trucks, and helicopters—exude a weird mix of anticipation, anxiety, dread, gorgeousness, and incomprehension. THROUGH AUGUST 1, Nicole Klagsbrun, 526 West 26th Street, 212-243-3335. (Levin)

KARA WALKERIt's simply called "Drawings," and nothing in this show grabs at the collective unconscious of the antebellum South quite as insistently as her installations. But this generous and unpretentious array of sketches, studies, silhouette drawings, penciled texts, washy watercolors, and large works on paper runs the gamut of Walker's antic investigations into the hideous realities, hidden fantasies, and complex codependencies of this nation's racial history. And it's just as effective at getting under our collective skin. Peopled with male colonists, mulatto women, wraiths, skeletons, evil genies, free spirits, and an alligator in a top hat—suckling, shackling, and doing unspeakable things to themselves and each other—it's a veritable orgy of the unrepressed psyche. THROUGH JULY 25, Brent Sikkema, 530 West 22nd Street, 212-929-2262. (Levin)

DANCE

NRITYAGRAM DANCE ENSEMBLE+MOLISSA FENLEY & DANCERSThe whole world's the choreographic inspiration of these two groups, sharing a free outdoor program: India's Nrityagram, based in what may be the world's only "dance village," brings a program of live dance and music in the Odissi style. Fenley (born in Vegas, raised in Nigeria and Spain, educated at Mills in Oakland, California), long an austere fixture of the downtown scene, shows three recent works. Come early or bring your binoculars. WEDNESDAY AT 8:30, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Zimmer)

'TAP CITY 2003'It's hard to tell exactly what drug they're taking, but when the international tap community gathers, faces light up and feet flip and a century of cultural exchange surfaces in a range of star turns. This third annual festival opens over the weekend with classes, workshops, and marathon performances. The first two feature young talent. (You're also invited to the curtain-raiser party at Jimmy's Uptown, 2207 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, SUNDAY AT 5:30.) MONDAY AT 9:30, TUESDAY AT 7 AND 9:30, AND OTHER TIMES THROUGH JULY 19, the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, 212-239-6200. (Zimmer)

FILM

'KAURISMÄKI GOES AMERICA'Aki Kaurismäki, Finland's laconic gift to world cinema, gets his most extensive solo retrospective to date, including the early, hard-to-see postmodern literary adaptations Crime and Punishment and Hamlet Goes Business, the estimable "working-class trilogy," and of course, the various adventures of the "world's worst rock 'n' roll band," the Leningrad Cowboys. OPENS THURSDAY, THROUGH JULY 17, BAM Rose Cinema, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-777-FILM. (Hoberman)

'MADAME SATÃ'A street-fighting, slum-dwelling Josephine Baker wannabe, the eponymous hero of Karim Aïnouz's first feature might have been imagined by Jean Genet after a night in Rio. Actually this bohemian outlaw is a historical figure as well as a walking provocation. Considering the conventions of Brazilian cinema, Madame Satã is surprisingly understated, but there's no denying the incendiary power of Lázaro Ramos's title performance—the movie is as much the story of his transformation into Madame Satã as it is Madame Satã's. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH JULY 22, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212-727-8110. (Hoberman)

'TRASH SINEMA'An East Side July can have its own fragrances, and so too does this series. John Waters is the presiding deity—he's represented by his breakthrough Pink Flamingos and early masterpiece Female Trouble, as well as the documentary portrait Divine Trash. Other dumpster divers include the exploitation pioneer Herschel Gordon Lewis, post-punk John Moritsugu, and the brothers Kuchar—nothing, however, is trashier than the 1979 proto-Blair Witch pseudo-doc Cannibal Holocaust. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH JULY 29, Pioneer Theater, 155 East 3rd Street, 212-254-3300. (Hoberman)

MUSIC

'BLACK PRESIDENT: THE ART AND LEGACY OF FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTI'One of the more resonant countercultural figures of modern times, Afropop superstar Fela Kuti visited America in 1969 and returned home to Nigeria with heavy Pan-African politics and the Funk. He died of AIDS in 1997, leaving behind a couple dozen wives and some 70 albums, whose magnificent cover art will be on display along with 42 other works by artists he inspired. Films and videos document his hyperkinetic stage shows and ongoing clashes with Nigeria's government. Fela rebelled by forming his own political party and seceding from the state during a time of what one local daily characterized as "bliss, folly, and sorrow." OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH SEPTEMBER 28, New Museum, 583 Broadway, 212-219-1222. (Gehr)

BROOKS & DUNNYou won't believe me when I say Ronnie and Kix are about to unleash the most rocking album of 2003, but that's your loss. Red Dirt Road starts up with the riff from "Start Me Up," finishes with 1965-Dylan-style holy-war apocalypse rapped from the point of view of an evangelist who foresees Jews fighting junkies, and packs tons of absurdly great soul and gospel and ZZ Top under its big tent between. It's closer to Exile on Main Street than Exile in Guyville ever was. The Drive-By Truckers or the White Stripes should kidnap the drummer. SUNDAY AT 3:30, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey, 201-307-7171. (Eddy)

TRACY CHAPMAN+JOSEPH ARTHURThe fact that Chapman was once a superstar never ceases to amaze me. I mean, of course the combination of her harrowing, minimalist songwriting with a voice like a warm, fuzzy blanket should have led to massive fame, but how often do dreadlocked African American female singer-songwriters break through to the mainstream? With Joseph Arthur, an ethereal folkie likened to Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley, and Leonard Cohen, who marries rootsy Americana to lush orchestration. TUESDAY AT 8, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, 212-307-7171. (Phillips)

DE LA SOUL+JONZI DThey're old, but they're not creaking yet. Long Island's finest are between record deals—Tommy Boy won't have them, nor will anyone else in the Warner system. Does that make De La Soul any less relevant, or their history any less crucial? No, it just proves how shortsighted the game is. If the Supreme Court can uphold affirmative action in the university system, certainly someone can give the gods a deal, eh? Jonzi D is a Brit rapper turned hip-hop-theater advocate, with all the good and bad that comes with the turf. SATURDAY AT 3, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Caramanica)

DIBLO DIBALA+MATCHACHAThe greatest Zairean guitarist of the Afro-Parisian era, Dibala pointed Kanda Bongo Man toward speed soukous before going his own way with Aurlus Mabele in Loketo and then with his own changeable band, which has proved far subtler than his magic fingers would have suggested. An affecting singer who's sure to leave the hard stuff to someone else, Dibala is above all a showman leading a dance band, which when the music is right is a good and all too rare thing. FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT AND 2 A.M., S.O.B.'s, 204 Varick Street, 212-243-4940. (Christgau)

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERSExuberant key-pumping guitar pop from Canadian mass-romantics that burns like a coke oven. In conjuring the heady days of Tesla (not the band, dude, the inventor of alternating currents!), conductor supreme Carl Newman sings about things like sound streaming out of magnets and the course of empire. His secret sonic weapon: the alt-country über-babe clarion girl Neko Case. With the Organ and I Am Spoonbender on Friday and the Lonesome Organist and the Organ on Saturday. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 9, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Sinagra)

'OUTDOOR PARKING LOT'Last summer, when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Liars played a show in this same vacant lot, it was a total scenester media circus, yet still ended up being the coolest show I saw all year. This time the bands are way less hyped, which means it will probably be even more fun. The Numbers and Measles, Mumps, Rubella play damaged, herky-jerky new wave, Dan Melchior's Broke Revue are neo-garage royalty, and the Rogers Sisters throw a punky girl-group party. SATURDAY AT 2 P.M., corner of Wythe Avenue and Broadway, Brooklyn. (Phillips)

DARYL SHERMANA canny singer-pianist with a high lilting sound in the tradition of Ethel Waters and Mildred Bailey, Sherman has an engaging style in both roles. She'll be focusing on the music of Richard Rodgers, the subject of her new CD, A Hundred Million Miracles(Arbors), a big canvas taking in the Hart and Hammerstein eras. In addition to her trio (two guitars, including Joe Cohn, and bass), tenor saxophonist Houston Person and singer-pianist-songwriter Bob Dorough will appear as guests to add ballast and wit to a lively show. THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 9, ALSO 11:30 ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, Algonquin Hotel Oak Room, 59 West 44th Street, 212-840-6800. (Giddins)

CECIL TAYLORResplendent as ever, Taylor succinctly accepted the Jazz Journalist Lifetime Achievement Award a few weeks ago, and while I doubt that he gives a rat's ass about what anyone thinks at this late date, it was a savory moment to see the critics come around and him graciously thank them. He will have his trio in tow for two nights, four sets. You don't get to share your life with many giants, so this summer is a jazz lover's dream—Ornette last week, Rollins to come, and now Taylor. If you've never seen him, take a chance, drop everything, and head downtown. SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT 8 AND 10, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3006. (Giddins)

PHOTO

DAVID MAISELThe subject of Maisel's six large, square color photographs is not at all apparent on first or even second glance. Though the pictures appear to record aspects of the natural world—dried blood? spilled ink? flayed rawhide? mold?—there's something in their scale and perspective that belies all these guesses. That's because they're all aerial views of an arid, unpopulated valley in southeastern California, where a long-drained lake bed had eroded into a toxic salt flat. With virtually no landscape markers, Maisel's chaotic, abstract, and weirdly beautiful images prompt us to meditate on the nature of representation—and the representation of nature. THROUGH SATURDAY, Von Lintel Gallery, 555 West 25th Street, 212-242-0599. (Aletti)

LUIS MALLOMallo's large-scale urban landscapes—most made in his Brooklyn neighborhood—are cleverly realized perceptual puzzles. In each photo, chicken wire, slats, net, or fencing of some sort occupies the picture's foreground, interrupting but not entirely obscuring our view of the factory, parking lot, or construction site beyond. Like a curious passerby, our eye is drawn to the open spaces and tears in these heavy-duty scrims, and Mallo invites us to fill in the entire landscape based on the strips and swatches we see. Both thwarting and redirecting our vision, the work is as perverse as it is engaging. THROUGH JULY 18, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, 212-627-4819. (Aletti)

THEATER

'ICE FACTORY '03'Fresh from winning the Ross Wetzsteon Grant at the 2003 Obie awards, Soho Think Tank mounts what might be its most ambitious "Ice Factory" series yet. The summer theater festival kicks things off with Lenora Champagne's Mother's Little Helper, the tale of a Cajun American Princess in an age of international political anxiety. Potential highlights in the six-show series, which runs through August 16: Pig Iron Theatre's new vaudeville Flop (July 23 through 26), and David Greenspan's Myopia (July 30 through August 2), his cult solo turn centered on a musical about President Warren G. Harding. (Here's hoping for Richard Foreman's bio of William Henry Harrison.) STARTS WEDNESDAY, Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street, 212-966-4844. (Parks)

KIROV OPERARussia's attention-getting opera house, celebrated for its large casts and lavish stagings, pays a rare visit as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, bringing some even rarer repertory items with it. Much of the conducting is in the hands of artistic director Valery Gergiev, and the six-opera season includes the New York premiere of Prokofiev's socialist realist work Semyon Kotko, plus Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, Verdi's Macbeth, and a concert performance of Rubinstein's rarely performed The Demon. THROUGH JULY 26, Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, 212-362-6000. (Feingold)

'MACBETH' (CTH)Shakespeare's tersest and grimmest tragedy must have some hidden cultural link to African American life: Orson Welles famously staged it in Harlem, setting it in Haiti; James Earl Jones won early laurels playing the title role. Now Classical Theatre of Harlem, newly laden with Obies for its revival of The Blacks, tackles the story of Scotland's destiny-hexed king, with Ty Jones in the lead and artistic director Alfred Preisser at the helm. Previews begin Wednesday, OPENS FRIDAY, CTH Courtyard Theater, 645 St. Nicholas Avenue, 212-868-4444. (Feingold)

'MACBETH' (LC FEST)Contemporary soundscapist Salvatore Sciarrino is yet another to tackle Shakespeare's tragedy of evil ambitions, which seems to be in the air these days. Oper Frankfurt's visiting production at the Lincoln Center Festival, the U.S. premiere of the work, is in the hands of director-designer Achim Freyer, a German theater eminence whose work has rarely been seen here. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY, John Jay College Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-721-6500. (Feingold)

'MAKE LOVE'Karen Finley, song and dance gal. If that description startles you, it's no surprise: Startling is Finley's stock in trade. This time around, the Obie-winning innovator of outrageous solo performance swears she's channeling Liza Minnelli "in song, dance, glamour, and glitter," to quote the press release. Don't, however, expect censor-ridden mainstreamers like Clear Channel to be tuning in on Karen's channel any time soon. Just stand by for blastoff. OPENS SUNDAY, THROUGH AUGUST 10, Fez at Time Café, 380 Lafayette Street, 212-533-2680. (Feingold)

'MYTHOS'The Oresteia, the tale of how King Agamemnon's dynasty crumbles during an interminable foreign war, seems an apt one for the Middle East just now. Israeli director Rina Yerushalmi, noted for her work at La MaMa, has tackled it with the combined forces of Itim Theatre Ensemble and Tel Aviv's Cameri Theatre. Let's hope Abbas and Sharon take their cues from Aeschylus's conciliatory finale. THROUGH SUNDAY, LaGuardia Drama Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-721-6500. (Feingold)

WORDS

WILL HEINRICH+DEBORAH SCHUPACK+RA SHERHeinrich's The King's Evil resides one step from myth, rendering a remote town and a sadomasochistic dyad in a controlled prose that sounds translated through several ashen tongues ("In either case, our new rapport led gradually to the heroic month of June"). Schupack and Sher read from their notable, unusual debuts, The Boy on the Bus and Gentlemen of Space. WEDNESDAY AT 7, Housing Works Used Books Café, 126 Crosby Street, 212-334-3324. (De Krap)

IAN SPIEGELMANA decade before 9-11 and the brotherhood of "I love New York more than ever," the threat of violence was more imminent on the streets than across the ocean, and diversity was just another word for racism—at least according to this Queens native's explosive debut novel, Everyone's Burning, where a generation of kids unraised by self-obsessed parents turn to drugs, s/m, and all forms of self-destruction as roads to transcendence. Pain is love, so sniff back the drip, hop on the L.I.E., and head to a place "twenty minutes and a thousand psychic miles from Manhattan." "Normals" need not bother. WEDNESDAY AT 7:30, Barnes & Noble, 70-00 Austin Street, Forest Hills, Queens, 718-793-1395. (Russell)

JAMES WOOD+NORMAN RUSHNew Republic book critic Wood—bane of hysterical realists, champion of Sebald—has no affection for the marquee fictions of Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, and their ilk. But does his debut novel, The Book Against God, have what it takes to reinvigorate the allegedly shopworn form? He joins Rush, whose 12-year novelistic silence has been broken with Mortals. SUNDAY AT 7, KGB, 85 East 4th Street, 212-505-3360. (De Krap)

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