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ART

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)

DANCE

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, lincolncenter.org. (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)

FILM

'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)

MUSIC

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)

IRON MAIDEN+DIO+MOTÖRHEAD Fuck the prefab faux-sexuality of all the new pretty-boy garage rockers. You want sonic deflowering? Lick one of Lemmy's warts, reach down and pat li'l Ronnie J's balding head, and catch a banshee jet stream from ole Bruce's Valhalla-rising gullet (rhymes with ____?). I don't want any L-train puppy love fashionista refashioned-vintage-metal-T ironic courtship. I want it hot and nasty in the back of my Camaro—like we use-tah, baby. It's legacy, it's legend, it's Metal 101, and surprisingly, after all the years, tears, and beers all three bands' most recent are way headbang-able. FRIDAY AT 7, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey, 732-335-0400; SATURDAY AT 7, Jones Beach Theater, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, New York, 516-221-1000. (Bosler)

'LOLLAPALOOZA' Since the Alternative Nation doesn't produce bands of both genuine artistic merit and commercial clout like it did when Lollapalooza debuted, credit Perry Farrell and Co. for finding a nice balance of art and commerce for the festival's long-awaited comeback. For starters there's the arena-ready headliners Audioslave, token alt-minded hip-hoppers J5, girl-punk underdogs Donnas, awesomely weird stoner-rockers with some commercial clout of their own Queens of the Stone Age, as well as the resurgent Jane's Addiction, who should draw some old-school alt-heads. For bigass rock festivals this summer, you could do a lot worse. Also: Incubus, the Distillers, and more. WEDNESDAY AT NOON, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey, 212-307-7171. (Hoard)

JEREMY PELT Some music just can't wait to get into the air, and the young trumpeter's new Insight wrecks like Twister. Pelt's drummer, Ralph Peterson, once called it volition, and indeed, as the bandleader's animated hard bop asserts itself, a great willfulness emerges. It makes his take of Hancock's "Madness" border on intimidating, and it gives his ballads a truly singular lyrical depth. Let's hear it for vehemence! WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY AT 8 & 10, Sweet Rhythm, 88 Seventh Avenue South, 212-255-3626. (Macnie)

RILO KILEY Jenny Lewis is the nice girl who says "Thank you guys" a lot and "fuck" occasionally—the new wave honey punk-rock guys dream of. Blake Sennett squeezes licks and solos and rude noises out of his guitar and provides vocal change-of-pace. Everybody switches instruments and takes turns. Arranged yet loose, they make the songband format take off. In a better world, they'd be real big, not just alt big. With M.Ward and Band of Four and the Statistics. SUNDAY AT 8:30, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111. (Christgau)

SPITS+LITTLE KILLERS+BLACK LIPS+ANDY G & THE ROLLER KINGS+SOME ACTION Seattle skate-skate-skaters the Spits do a thuggish, lumpen, snot-nosed, flat-voiced but still way catchy merger of early Ramones and pre-oi! Brit guttersnipe punk, with electronic keybs stuck in there subliminally; Black Lips are ingeniously incoherent teen garbage-can cave-punks from Atlanta. Everybody else here is local: Little Killers, balls-of-fire tomcats of both genders chasing stuck-up like spiders; Roller Kings, dancefloor-happy sax-honky hoods; Some Action, powerpoppers not quite blessed with the power or pop of the Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action," but few are. FRIDAY AT 9, Sin-é, 148 Attorney Street, 212-388-0077. (Eddy)

MARK TURNER & ETHAN IVERSON QUARTET What happens when you combine quick wits and deep minds? You get a band that entertains as it busts some heavy moves. That's what happens when the tenor player with the lithe lines meets the pianist with the keen touch. In this situation Iverson forgoes the Bad Plus giddies for some lyrical maneuvers, and Turner is egged out of his occasionally insular shell to stomp around a bit. Some call that win-win. The drummer is Billy Hart. Some call that win-win-win. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 9:30 AND 11:30, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, ALSO AT 1 A.M., Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Avenue South, 212-255-4037. (Macnie)

PHOTO

ANSEL ADAMS John Szarkowski's "re-evaluation" of Adams's career is so rigorous, so shrewd, and so elegantly organized that even those of us who have dismissed the photographer as a Sierra Club sentimentalist have to acknowledge his austere modernist brilliance. Adams's famous Western landscape vistas are included here alongside less familiar and more abstract images of mountains, grasses, weathered trees, and desert rocks in an installation that's persuasive, unpredictable, and never didactic. Szarkowski's choice of exceptional, often rather small prints puts magnificence in context and suggests that Adams understated, rather than inflated, nature's grandeur. THROUGH NOVEMBER 3, Museum of Modern Art, 33rd Street and Queens Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens, 212-708-9400. (Aletti)

ELLEN KOOI The seven staged panoramic images in this Dutch photographer's New York debut introduce us to a world where the ordinary slides quietly into the fantastic. Three young boys perch like birds atop a plant nursery fence; two women kneel in the street, screaming into the grates of sewer drains; the population of a small village walks single file out of a lake and up a grassy hill. Even if she seems to be sampling Justine Kurland, Simen Johan, and Kahn/Selesnick, Kooi has a deft, light touch that gives her work a dreamlike power. THROUGH AUGUST 8, P.P.O.W., 555 West 25th Street, 212-647-1044. (Aletti)

THEATER

'BLUEPRINT SERIES' The young who cluster, justifiably, around downtown theater's éminence grise, Richard Foreman, get their chance to strut their own stuff when this annual fest of works-in-progress rolls around. In this year's series, Timothy Braun spins off on Foreman's writings; Ann Marie Healy and Josh Hecht plumb the mysteries of death and domesticity in Minnesota; Young Jean Lee studies the metaphysics of morals, apparently in Mandarin bops talk (the press synopsis starts "ching chang chong bong bang bing"—and goes on that way); and Eric Powers snoops in the Alice books. Sounds like fun. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH AUGUST 3, Ontological at St. Marks, 10th Street and Second Avenue, 212-533-4650. (Feingold)

'EDGE' Everybody loves self-destruction, preferably in others. And nobody self-destructs more effectively than poets, especially when young. Which may explain why Paul Alexander's written and directed a solo show about poet Sylvia Plath, set on the last day of her life, and why Angelica Torn's playing the lead role. It's a strictly limited run, so you'd better see it now, Daddy, you bastard, or it'll be through before you know it. THROUGH SEPTEMBER 20, DR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street, 212-239-6200. (Feingold)

'MATT & BEN' A guy flick with a chick cast? A celebrity-spoofing comedy hour? A do-it-yourself deconstruction of cinema stardom? Whatever it is, this new comedy written and performed by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers got liked sufficiently at last year's "Fringe Fest" that it's been reborn, newly dressed up by Obie-winning director David Warren. If the male bonding of stars named Matt and Ben afflecks you in some way or other, this may be just what your good will's been hunting for. OPENS MONDAY, THROUGH SEPTEMBER 6, P.S.122, 150 First Avenue, 212-477-5288. (Feingold)

WORDS

DAVE EGGERS+SARAH VOWELL+SEAN WILSEY The stuffed shirts at The New Republic liken our generation of writers to a kindergarten corrupted by DeLillo and Pynchon, with McSweeney's at the head of the class. The godfather of the Ritalin-dependent (who hide behind a deluge of irony but are no less heartfelt), Dave Eggers' reads from his novel You Shall Know Our Velocity!, just released in paperback with over 50 pages of new material, along with social commentator Sarah Vowell, author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and Sean Wilsey, a McSweeney's editor at work on a memoir about his string of reform schools. SATURDAY AT 7, Tonic, 107 Norfolk Street, 212-358-7501. (Kim)

ALEX KERSHAW Kershaw's new biography, Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa, captures the war photographer nonpareil, whose electric, elegant, dangerous work was regarding the pain of others. Trivia: Capa's real name was Andre Friedmann. Tip: Do not confuse him with Frank Capra. TUESDAY AT 7:30, Barnes and Noble, 4 Astor Place, 212-420-1322. (De Krap)

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