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MICHAEL ELMGREEN & INGAR DRAGSET No longer making “Powerless Structures,” this smart Scandinavian duo installs five functioning phone booths along one wall of the bare gallery. They call it “Phone Home,” and they mean it. E.T. and everyone else can buy a $2 phone card and make cheap calls to family and friends around the globe. But there’s a catch: The five recording and listening devices in the side gallery make issues of public privacy, and questions of voyeurism and personal surveillance. Like their earlier architectural sculpture, this impeccable “auto-performative” installation looks stark but is behaviorally complex. THROUGH MARCH 15, Tanya Bonakdar, 521 West 21st Street, 212-414-4144. (Levin)

LUCIAN FREUD Anyone expecting “Drawings 1940” to be a prologue to his crusty portraiture is in for a surprise. Made in Wales, where he rented a room during the first winter of World War II, the 168 small drawings here are the works of a wayward, awkward, playful adolescent talent. He was 17 years old and his psyche ran wild, imagining birds with human heads, tree wraiths, and convoluted horses, or recording a cobweb, a nosebleed, or a pair of socks. Each is a gem. If some make you think of Miró, Guston, Clemente, Beuys, or today’s youthquake, think too of what he gave up to hone his dour style. And be sure to flip the hinged ones. THROUGH APRIL 12, Matthew Marks, 523 West 24th Street, 212-243-0200. (Levin)

dance

JOE GOODE PERFORMANCE GROUP Goode comes on like a cowboy in the Sam Shepard mode, but he’s a gay man, born in Virginia, settled in San Francisco. Too long absent from our precincts, he arrives with three works new to New York but beloved of West Coast audiences: the loony duet Doris in a Dustbowl, in which he and colleague Liz Burritt play Rock Hudson and Doris Day; Take Place, which explores the role of “place” in our decision making; and the newer What the Body Knows, to music by Beth Custer and incorporating video by Doug Rosenberg. TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY AT 8, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212-242-0800. (Zimmer)

VICKY SHICK+BARBARA KILPATRICK DTW’s “Carnival” series continues to roll out brave experimentalists. Next up are choreographer Shick and visual artist Kilpatrick, collaborating on Undoing, which features downtown divas Juliette Mapp, Jodi Melnick, Eileen Thomas, Meg Wolfe, and Shick moving among Kilpatrick’s moveable set pieces to Elise Kermani’s sound score, exploring an idiosyncratic reality that blends inertia and repetition with moments of voluptuousness and vivid clarity. TUESDAY AT 7 AND MARCH 5, 13, 14, 22, AND 23, Bessie Schönberg Theater, 219 West 19th Street, 212-924-0077. (Zimmer)

film

‘ASYLUM’ Radical therapist R.D. Laing advocated therapeutic communities where patients might freak freely amid kindred spirits and doctors living as their equals. This counterculture oracle was at the peak of his fashion in 1972 when Peter Robinson documented one such Laingian treatment center—part halfway house, part hippie commune, at once laid-back and chaotic. Asylum is a fascinating documentary, both as a period piece and for its theater-of-the-absurd pathos, which plays like the inadvertent inspiration for Lars Van Trier’s transcendentally snarky The Idiots. THROUGH TUESDAY, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 212-505-5181. (Hoberman)

‘THE BARON OF BLOOD: MARIO BAVA’ Italy’s answer to Roger Corman and Terence Fisher, maestro Bava enlivened the ’60s and early ’70s with a number of stylish, excessive genre flicks. The 1960 horror classic Black Sunday, a vehicle for Barbara Steele, initiates a six-week series of Monday screenings that include the cheap and atmospheric Planet of the Vampires (1966) and absurdly gory Baron Blood (1972). MONDAYS, THROUGH MARCH 31, BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-636-4157. (Hoberman)

‘SPIDER’ David Cronenberg’s brilliant, disturbing movie, adapted by Patrick McGrath from his 1990 novel, immediately conjures up a sense of self-contained delusion that’s sustained for 98 minutes. More poetic than clinical in its approach to schizophrenia, Spider is rigorously hallucinated—a vision of ecstatic, lysergic shabbiness with a terrible, formal beauty. As Ralph Fiennes’s shuffling, mumbling madman rummages through his past, Spider‘s greatness derives from an uncanny ability to operate both inside and outside his tangled consciousness—Cronenberg has capped an impressive string of accomplishments with the most purely filmic movie of his career. OPENS FRIDAY, Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, 212-777-FILM. (Hoberman)

music

KAZEM AL SAHIR The hottest musical ticket in his native Iraq, if not the entire Arab world (savor the irony), the 40-ish Al Sahir inhabits a sly middle ground that bridges the shuffling sufferation of Egypt’s working-class shaabi sound, the classically informed, poetry-driven modes of, say, Um Kulthum, and world-beat remix fodder for Transglobal Underground. He hasn’t performed in New York for ages and returns with a high-pedigree 15-piece band and more cultural baggage than any performer should be forced to check. FRIDAY AT 8, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, at 74th Street, 212-307-7171. (Gehr)

KASEY CHAMBERS Chambers possesses the cuttingest contralto and thickest Australian accent in country music and its far-flung environs. She’s as strong covering Gram Parsons as remembering the desert where she grew up. And if she’s in a good mood, which she usually is, she’ll play you some Bob Wills or Son Volt gem you wouldn’t have dreamed she knew. With Robinella & the CC String Band. THURSDAY AT 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800. (Christgau)

DONNIE+BOBBITO Donnie has the sound of a revolutionary: politically charged lyrics delivered with lover-man certitude. There’s parts of his debut, The Colored Section, that reek of self-righteousness, but he generally overcomes it with a top-notch voice and a remarkable amount of sincerity for a guy who’s probably seen the dark side. Fellow optimist Bobbito spent years trying to make the hip-hop underground something special. Since it betrayed him, he’s been focused on spinning music of the highest caliber, genres notwithstanding. With Julie Dexter. WEDNESDAY AT 8:30, Village Underground, 130 West 3rd Street, 212-777-7745. (Caramanica)

HUUN-HUUR-TU Part miracle, part charming folk gimmickry, the whistling, wheezing, and overtone-juggling “throat singers” of Tuva (located just north of Mongolia) make one of the most elegant arguments for cultural preservation you’ll ever experience. The name means “sun propeller,” their lyrics deal largely with horses and other necessities of the nomadic lifestyle, and the instrumentation includes both jaw harp and a manly rattle made of sheep bones and a bull’s scrotum. SATURDAY AT 8, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400. (Gehr)

LES MERVEILLES DE AFRIQUE When I visited then-peaceful Abidjan eight years ago, this then-teenaged dance-and-percussion side project of Les Ballets Africains choreographer Mohamed K’moko was the surprise hit of the Marché des Arts du Spectacle Africain. I don’t know whether they’ve still got their showstopper, a polio victim who danced on his hands with his matchstick legs folded against his chest. But both the dance and the percussion will get fairly spectacular well before. Opening: Fula Flute Ensemble. SUNDAY AT 7, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400. (Christgau)

JOE LOVANO The theme this time is “Celebrate Dexter Gordon,” an irresistible invitation. Gordon’s performances here were milestones of the ’70s jazz revival, and Lovano—though not someone who comes to mind as a Dexter-style player—cannot fail to have fun with Gordon’s book, especially in the context of this unerring rhythm section: drummer Victor Lewis, bassist Rufus Reid, and pianist George Cables, whose silken touch, fleet fingering, and exemplary time added much to Dexter’s quartet for two whirlwind years (’76-’78), after which he became the preferred accompanist of Art Pepper. An hour before each set, the Vanguard will screen the new Gordon documentary, More Than You Know. 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. (Giddins)

SAHARA HOT NIGHTS+GORE GORE GIRLS+IKARA COLT 48 Crash like a lightning flash! Spiritual Daughters of Suzi Quatro invade from Sweden and Detroit: Foxily Abba-accented foursome Sahara Hot Nights are linked romantically to the Hives and kick that Shakin’ Street-where-all-the-kids-meet beat. The Gore Gores are even more wicked; despite a fluid lineup revolving around Amy Surdu’s raunchy riffs and randy pipes, their two albums make them America’s most consistent rock band of the ’00s, and they mix Stooges spit with Supremes soul like an itching in my heart full of napalm. Brit art-punk phenoms Ikara Colt are promising, but better stay outta the dames’ way. Sahara Hot Nights and Ikara Colt play THURSDAY AT 9, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212-533-2111; all bands play FRIDAY AT 9, Maxwell’s, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703. (Eddy)

‘SONGS OF PROTEST: THE VIETNAM SONGBOOK’ Hey man, do you remember the ’60s? Free love, flower power, rock music. You can relive the spirit of those times now that we have another highly dubious foreign war looming! Dom Fleming and Kim Rancourt unleash their history lesson, reviving Barbara Dane and Irwin Sibler’s historic 1969 songbook. The songs of folk favorites Dane, Pete Seeger, Country Joe, Phil Ochs, and Tuli Kupferberg will be revived by Sonic Youth’s Jim O’Rourke and Thurtson Moore, Dean Wareham (Luna), and Lenny Kaye, not to mention Dane and Kupferberg themselves. Come and share in the indignation. SATURDAY AT 7:00 AND 9:30, Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212-539-8777. (Gross)

‘TIBET HOUSE BENEFIT CONCERT’ An eclectic crew of fellow travelers once again does the right thing for this local institution dedicated to bigging up Tibetan truths and tribulations. The artistically rejuvenated David Bowie headlines this year’s edition, joined by minimalist icon Philip Glass, art babe Laurie Anderson, English eccentric Ray Davies, Benin Afropop live wire Angelique Kidjo, genetically blessed Ziggy Marley and Rufus Wainwright, Tibetan folk singer Tsering Wangmo, and the bedazzling Drepung Gomang Monks. FRIDAY AT 7:30, Carnegie Hall, 154 West 57th Street, 212-247-7800. (Gehr)

MATT WILSON The prolific drummer who can and will play in any style has a terrific new album, Humidity (Palmetto), to show off his terrific new quartet, which includes two longtime partners, altoist Andrew D’Angelo and bassist Yosuke Inoue, and a tenor saxophonist, Jeff Ledere, whose work throughout is especially impressive. Wilson’s new pieces include the title work, which seems to have been inspired by an old-fashioned percolating coffee pot, and “Thank You Billy Higgins,” a montage of Ornettisms that does the trick. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 8, 10:30, AND MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY AT 7 AND 9, Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, 212-576-2232. (Giddins)

photo

MARLA SWEENEY Sweeney’s color portraits of people in American small towns combine photojournalistic directness, snapshot nonchalance, and a kind of unforced, understated sympathy. The best of these modest, deliberately unspectacular images seem scaled to their subjects, many of whom are children and young teenagers who bring their own fragility or bravado to the work. A delicately pretty girl in an off-the-shoulder blouse appears to crumple in on herself with self-consciousness while a boy with a pacifier in his mouth not only stares the camera down but tries to get his distracted pit bull pup to do the same. THROUGH SATURDAY, Yossi Milo Gallery, 552 West 24th Street, 212-414-0370. (Aletti)

DEBORAH TURBEVILLE Turbeville’s gorgeously idiosyncratic fashion photos have always been haunted by history; her models either slump under the burden of the past or engage it with a kind of fierce possessiveness. That impression is compounded here by Turbeville’s typically eccentric installation style—which includes scrapbook-like collages, spidery handwritten captions, rich Fresson prints, and one large image mounted on a raw slab of wallboard—and her choice of St. Petersburg, Prague, and Budapest as evocatively atmospheric settings. “I say yes to style, yes to mood, yes to ambiguity,” Turbeville writes, and we couldn’t agree more. THROUGH MARCH 15, Staley Wise Gallery, 560 Broadway, at Prince Street, 212-966-6223. (Aletti)

theater

‘THE LAST TWO JEWS OF KABUL’ The most multicultural city in Central Asia once held 40,000 Jews; the remnant duo, on whom Josh Greenfeld’s new play is based, were discovered there after the fall of the Taliban, living over the ruins of the city’s last synagogue. Let’s hope their stage avatars are as fascinating as these few facts. George Ferencz directs; Jerry Matz and George Drance play the roles. Expect bickering; remember the ancient proverb: Two Jews, four opinions. THURSDAY, THROUGH MARCH 16, La MaMa Annex, 74A East 4th Street, 212-374-7710. (Feingold)

‘O JERUSALEM’ In A.R. Gurney’s last play, a suburban housewife broke the naturalistic frame because she was so mad at George W. Bush. Now Gurney’s writing from inside the source of her anger: The hero of his new play is a State Department official whose new appointment plunks him into the middle of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Toto, I think we’re not in Buffalo anymore. Jim Simpson directs an intriguing cast that includes Stephen Rowe and Rita Wolf, seen last year in The Goat and Homebody/Kabul, respectively. PREVIEWS BEGIN WEDNESDAY, OPENING MARCH 18, the Flea, 41 White Street, 212-226-0051. (Feingold)

‘POLISH JOKE’ The new theater in Warsaw has terrible sight-line problems—every seat is behind a Pole. But seriously, the hero of David Ives’s new play is a young Pole who, not wanting to be a joke, sets out to find himself a new ethnicity. Sound funny already? It gets better when you add Ives’s regular directing partner, John Rando, and a cast that includes Malcolm Gets, Nancy Opel, and, in his post-directorial return to acting, Chicago‘s Walter Bobbie. We’ve been privately assured that no vampires will dance in this one. IN PREVIEWS, OPENS MARCH 18, Manhattan Theatre Club, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212. (Feingold)

‘ROSES IN DECEMBER’ In Victor L. Cahn’s new play, told in letters, a persistent grad student tries to get a famously reclusive author to attend his alumni reunion. We suspect that this tale was inspired by someone named Salinger—probably not the Hollywood orchestrator Conrad Salinger. The production, staged by T. L. Reilly, is a sort of reunion itself—or maybe a first class meeting, since it marks the debut appearance onstage of father-daughter duo James and Keira Naughton. (Warning: James Naughton only appears through March 9.) OPENS WEDNESDAY, Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street, 212-206-1515. (Feingold)

words

RICHARD FORD + MICHAEL FRAYN Novelist Ford evades the predictable evolution of writers born south of the Mason-Dixon Line by telling stories imbued with a more generalized American—or just plain human—ethos. And British playwright (and novelist) Michael Frayn nimbly genre-hops, as in two critical successes: the farcical Noises Off and the weighty Copenhagen, in which a visit paid to Niels Bohr by Werner Heisenberg limns a secret history of World War II. MONDAY AT 8, 92nd Street Y, 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, 212-415-5500. (Meyer)

‘A TRIBUTE TO W.G. SEBALD’ Leave it to the rarefied Sebald—supreme practitioner of prose at once luminous, dapper, and singularly mournful—to save his most controversial book for when he’s not around. The essays gathered posthumously in On the Natural History of Destruction provoked outrage in his native Germany for their damning take on that country’s post-war writers—and a recent New Yorker excerpt drew angry letters stateside. Novelists E.L. Doctorow and Michael Krüger, poet Adam Zagajewski, and polymath Susan Sontag—perhaps his most eloquent reader—pay tribute to the late alchemist of memory and melancholy. WEDNESDAY AT 7, LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Queens, 718-997-4646. (Park)