ASSUME VIVID ASTRO FOCUS With a facade worthy of Vegas, an MTV-wannabe music projection, a functioning tattoo parlor, and more, this Rio-born artist (a/k/a Eli Sudbrack) sets the gallery reeling in an over-the-top installation of swirling biomorphic shapes, clashing images, and oversize hallucinations. One Web critic called him "the 21st century's answer to Peter Max." Another described his hyperactive neo-psychedelia as "bubblegum disco in space." And the press release tells us he's sampling Beardsley, Picabia, Pink Floyd, kids' coloring books, soft porn, and Yoko Ono's "Walking on Thin Ice." Maybe it should mention slippery Pucci fabric designs, too. THROUGH AUGUST 15, Deitch Projects, 76 Grand Street, 212-343-7300. (Levin)


Hello muddah, hello faddah: David Letterle and Joanna Chilcoat in Todd Graff's performance-driven Camp (see film).
photo: Dennis Yeandle
Hello muddah, hello faddah: David Letterle and Joanna Chilcoat in Todd Graff's performance-driven Camp (see film).

'BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY' Provoked by Maurizio Cattelan's new publication, Charley 03, which casts close to 100 artists of the '80s in a new light, this show is a startling look at what was going on in New York. With Georg Herold's underpants, Annette Lemieux's waders, Ron Jones's retrovirus, John Dogg's tire, Daniel Oates's boots, Lee Quinones's Debbie Harry, posters by the Guerrilla Girls, Jessica Diamond's Money Having Sex, and a fine, ratty piece by Bill Woodrow, it's not the '80s anyone expects—which is why it could just give that decade a good name. Think of it as the future of the forgotten past. And don't miss Cheryl Donegan's licking video or David Robbins's achingly young headshots. THROUGH AUGUST 8, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street, 212-727-2070. (Levin)


BATSHEVA DANCE COMPANY One of the liveliest choreographers of his generation, who understands both show business and ways to manifest politics on a dance stage, is Ohad Naharin. His Anaphaza has its New York premiere at the Lincoln Center Festival this week, performed by Israel's best modern troupe, which he directs. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 8, New York State Theater, 63rd Street and Columbus Avenue, 212-721-6500, (Zimmer)

TWYLA THARP DANCE The last time Tharp's troupe played this theater, it brought down the house. Now most of those dancers are starring on Broadway in Movin' Out, and the choreographer has rounded up a fresh squad, including former White Oak member Emily Coates, Jason McDole, Charlie Neshyba Hodges, and five others. They wowed the crowd in Newark this winter, and they'll brighten your summer night in Chelsea with the dramatic Surfer at the River Styx, the local premiere of Westerly Round, the Known by Heart Duet, and a revival of a 35-year-old Tharp classic, The Fugue, performed to the assertive percussion of the dancers' feet. MONDAY AND TUESDAY AT 8, THROUGH AUGUST 9, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212-242-0800. (Zimmer)


'BALSEROS' Made by Spanish TV, Balseros (Cuban Rafters) individualizes the 1994 outpouring of Cubans desperately attempting to reach Florida by raft. Thanks to a video-fueled sense of instant feedback, Castroland has never seemed closer (or more remote). The filmmakers track seven refugees while monitoring their left-behinds, returning five years later to document the sundry broken relationships and varying degrees of adaptation. Becalmed or bobbing along, the protagonists are still balseros—but then, as this engrossing, complex documentary suggests, so are we all. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH AUGUST 5, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212-727-8110. (Hoberman)

'BUFFALO SOLDIERS' This dark service comedy—set on a U.S. military base in Stuttgart, West Germany, as the wall is tumbling in Berlin—should be funnier, but it has a nonchalant glitter and an unshakably cynical attitude. Australian director Gregor Jordan's jaunty mish-M*A*S*H depicts a demoralized peacetime army commanded by fools with the wryly self-contained Joaquin Phoenix playing a cool, smack-dealing Sgt. Bilko. Originally set to open in the fall of 2001, Buffalo Soldiers was understandably delayed—now, with another U.S. occupation rapidly souring, it feels almost avant-garde. OPENS FRIDAY, Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, 212-995-2000. (Hoberman)

'CAMP' It's Fame set in a summer acting program, with the emphasis on gay pathos rather than urban soul. Sweet bordering on saccharine, Camp is ultimately about the talents of the performers—and a vision of life as a Broadway show. Stephen Sondheim has a cameo as God; in the grand finale a heavyset girl unwires her jaw to belt out, "Here's who I A-A-AMMMMM!" Despite the appearance of charming disorganization, Todd Graff's first feature scarcely forgets a single cliché. OPENS FRIDAY, Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street, 212-358-7709. (Hoberman)


COMMON+JIN+BUBBA SPARXXX+ANTHONY HAMILTON A cross-demographic crunk-fest of hip-hop's many tributaries. Common holds it down for Chicago, Fort Greene, and kufis, and his last album tried to be Stankonia for bohos. At moments, it almost was. Jin is a Chinese American freestyle marauder signed to Ruff Ryders with a whip-quick tongue and quick rejoinders to all your slanty-eyes jokes. Bubba Sparxxx, the pride of LaGrange, Georgia, has delivered what is certain to be the best hip-hop album this year, an album-length collaboration with Timbaland in which the latter discovers the blues and Skynyrd, and the former rediscovers his father. With Anthony Hamilton, who got famous singing hooks for Nappy Roots. SUNDAY AT 8, B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, 237 West 42nd Street, 212-307-7171. (Caramanica)

THE DISTILLERS Taking a pit stop on their run with Lollapalooza (see below), the Distillers will invade punk's womb with ferocious songs that plunge their hooks into your heart and swing you around the room. Though she's the only original member from the band's first incarnation in the late '90s, singer-guitarist Brody Armstrong is really all you need. She's a punkist fuckingist rockist slab of flesh, who ravages mind and body with tales of survival and social criticism from a gutter rat's point of view. Best of all, she's just getting warmed up. With a major label debut album on the way later this year, the Distillers are poised to swallow this bitch whole. THURSDAY AT 8, CBGB, 315 Bowery, 212-982-4052. (Fury)

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