By Gerald Siegmund
09.02.2002 / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Five youths stand with big earmuffs at the shooting range. It’s the first time they hold a gun in their hands, and they are instructed by a police officer who gives them advice on the correct technique. A target appears for three seconds in front of them, then it disappears again for ten seconds. The bullet has to cover the long way to the target within three seconds. The recoil tears their bodies back, but Valentin Erni, Thomas Hostetter, Diego Krauss, Ahmend Mehdi and Adrian Seitz are enjoying themselves.
This film is projected onto two inflated airbeds covered with white bed sheets on the studio stage of the Mousonturm. Next to this, the five youths are lined up and watch themselves shooting. They comment on their achievements, and put yellow spots onto their clothing to mark their hits. They jump in rhythmical formation a quarterturn just like the targets when folded away. Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel target the world of youth in their new project “Shooting Bourbaki“. They let the youths act in their own world and show it to the audience. At the same time they also describe what they do. The means and levels of this production comment on each other in an intelligent and entertaining way beyond any illusion. Prior to this the five youths barricaded themselves trenches-like behind the airbeds, and then they jump around on them like young puppies. Later they throw themselves like bullets against the airbeds onto which the targets are projected. During that, an off-voice reports on the breathing technique of shooting. The boys are as sharp as projectiles – after all “Shooting Bourbaki“ deals with bullets of a different kind. Phenomena of growing up, such as physicality, aggression, territorial behaviour and hierarchy mirror stories from the Swiss and their history. In 1871, during the German-French War, General Bourbaki had to surrender his weapons in order to find shelter in Switzerland.
Haug, Kaegi and Wetzel embark with their projects on specific excursions into particular milieus in a way which is similar to journalistic research. “Shooting Bourbaki“ was produced for the theatre in Lucerne, where it had its first showing. They filmed the Bourbaki-Panorama in Lucerne as well as the shooting range of local police, a Genius loci, which is right next to the theatre. Out of necessity, this is missing in their Frankfurt performance. Still, the aim of their work is not a somehow created realism with a guarantee of authenticity.
The three cleverly shift the levels of reality by letting Adrian speak up front through the microphone about his favourite band Marilyn Manson, or they let Thomas show us his parents‘ house where there are two guns in the cupboard, until the documentation falls into fiction and the fiction becomes reality. The boys stand with their legs apart on stage, go through shooting exercises or move their lips to dialogues from the film “Star Wars“.
The everyday-life of the youths, and in the end ours too, is penetrated with theatrical phenomena to Haug, Kaegi and Wetzel. So who should be surprised that theatre becomes the location of the ordinary which analyses exactly this relationship of theatre and life. At any rate, the five boys enjoy the performance just as much as the audience.