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What to Do in N.Y.C. This Weekend

Email sent: Feb 13, 2020 4:33pm

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See the art of the social crusader Dorothea Lange, hear virtuoso string musicians from Iran and Iraq, eat Korean skewers at Kochi, and more.
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Art

Imagine Donald Trump’s Department of Agriculture hiring artists to expose the plight of America’s working poor. In the nineteen-thirties, F.D.R.’s Farm Security Administration did just that when it sent Dorothea Lange around California in support of the New Deal. The photographer went on to become one of the most celebrated and sensitive social crusaders of the twentieth century. Language—including the handwritten notes that accompanied her F.S.A. photographs—was always central to her project, and the exhibition “Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures,” at MOMA, gives equal respect to her photographic prints and her publications. Her best-known images are of indelible faces in hardscrabble places, but she also had a humane eye for text. Note the image of a hand-painted sign at a California gas station, taken in 1938: “This is your country don’t let the big men take it away from you.”— Andrea K. Scott

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Night Life

The musical traditions of Iran and Iraq stretch back centuries, and improvisation is built into the music-making of both cultures, allowing contemporary string virtuosos such as Sahba Motallebi (she plays the tar, a Persian lute) and Rahim AlHaj (an oud practitioner, once a political prisoner in his native Baghdad) to tinge these ancient modes with shades of modernity. Playing separately and together in a remarkable, one-of-a-kind concert on Saturday, at Merkin Hall, both honor the roads they’ve travelled from the war-torn Middle East to renown in the West.—K. Leander Williams

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Food & Drink: Tables for Two

The other night at Kochi, a new Korean restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, I decided to conduct an experiment. Dinner here is tasting-menu-only: nine courses, most of them skewers, from the chef Sungchul Shim, who worked at Per Se and Neta. At seventy-five dollars, it seemed, compared with similar offerings, to be unusually reasonably priced—half as much, for instance, as the skewer tasting menu at Torien, a new spinoff of a renowned Tokyo yakitori bar. And yet my server pushed, if gently, a handful of steeply priced supplements: osetra caviar, black truffles, uni, Wagyu beef. Were they necessary? Was this a hundred-and-fifty-dollar tasting menu posing as a seventy-five-dollar one? Was I in danger of being suckered by a marketing ploy? I’d find out, by declining them all on my first visit and then coming back and posing as a high roller.—Hannah Goldfield

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The Theatre

In this new “Medea,” based on Euripides’ classic, written and directed by Simon Stone (at BAM’s Harvey Theatre), Anna (the subtly soulful Rose Byrne) and Lucas (Bobby Cannavale) are a married couple, both scientists by trade, reunited when Anna is released from a mental institution. She was sent there after being caught trying to gradually kill Lucas by slipping trace amounts of poison into his dinner. Returned home, Anna is anxious to win Lucas back, but her desire is delusional: this whole cycle started when Anna found a bouquet of sexts—to Clara (Madeline Weinstein), the young daughter of Anna and Lucas’s boss, Christopher (Dylan Baker)—on Lucas’s phone. A solid, surprisingly graceful presence onstage, Cannavale moves like a linebacker with a background in modern dance. Byrne’s Anna feels as real and as horrifying as the evening news, ready to do something she can’t undo, make a stain you could never scrub out.—Vinson Cunningham

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Movies

The filmmaker Mark Rappaport, who began his career in the nineteen-seventies with a series of archly refracted low-budget melodramas, returned to the source of melodrama with his 1992 essay-film “Rock Hudson’s Home Movies.” Hudson—whose career was launched by the director Douglas Sirk, Hollywood’s master of melodrama—was gay, a fact not widely known until after the actor’s death, from AIDS, in 1985. Rappaport explores the star’s poignant double life in an age of anti-gay discrimination, hatred, and repression, by way of a close look at Hudson’s roles and performances and the secrets that they both conceal and reflect. It screens Thursday night and Sunday afternoon at Anthology Film Archives, as part of a retrospective of Rappaport’s work.—Richard Brody

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Classical Music

The harpist Bridget Kibbey and the mandolinist Avi Avital test the notion that their instruments can make just about any music sound sweet and romantic. Their Valentine’s Day concert, which takes place Friday night in a candlelit crypt below the Church of the Intercession, features arrangements of a Bach flute sonata, song cycles by Joaquín Rodrigo (“Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios”) and Manuel de Falla (the dreamy and tangy “Siete Canciones Populares Españolas”), and Marc Lavry’s “Three Jewish Dances.”—Oussama Zahr

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Dance

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker doesn’t lack chutzpah. She’s the Belgian choreographer who, for the revival of “West Side Story” currently on Broadway, has replaced the original Jerome Robbins choreography with her own radically different stuff. A similar boldness underlies “Mitten Wir im Leben Sind” (“In the Midst of Life”), a 2017 work that has its North American première at N.Y.U. Skirball, February 13th to 15th. It’s set to Bach’s suites for solo cello, all six in a row, and lasts two attention-taxing hours, without an intermission. Compounding the audacity, the choreography is in De Keersmaeker’s most austere, pedestrian mode, all walks and runs and pivots. (De Keersmaeker, who is fifty-nine, is one of the five dancers.) But the cellist, Jean-Guihen Queyras, is deeply versed in the score and up for the marathon. The dance of alignment and friction between Bach and the Belgian postmodernist can clarify both.—Brian Seibert

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