Image: Markus Gössi. Photo (c) Petra Köhle + Nicolas Vermot Petit-Outhenin
Markus Gössi comes onto stage wheeling a trolley loaded with paper bags and a long stick, like an empty flag pole. He takes a brief tour of the stage – scoping out the territory – before he finds the corner that suits him. Here he parks his luggage and sets about making a border out of salt on the ground. His boundaries undulate like a natural island, marking out what is his and what is ‘outside’. Then Gössi makes a salt gateway for himself, steps through it and stands proudly outside his land, looking in.
Gössi’s performance is a response to Stuart Brisley, the UK artist who performed earlier in the evening. But whereas Brisley explored his performance space in a stream of methodical concentration, Gössi steps back from his from time to time, as if to calculate the effects of his labour.
When he is satisfied with his homemade landmass, Gössi sets about the business of protecting it. First he strips to his underpants, then he wraps parts of his body in tin foil: his legs, his ankle, his arms, his torso. He cuts a humorous figure on stage: a rotund knight in shimmering armour made from the materials of a domestic kitchen.
The problem seems to be that once he has made himself a home, Gössi must now protect it. He makes a tin foil flag to crown his flag pole, and he takes his flag pole off the island to begin an elaborate display of ownership. Gössi waves the flag round his head until the roll of tin foil unravels around him. It arcs into a magnificent spiral, and Gössi the homemade warrior is enshrined inside his sparkling border.
Protecting his island-base, Gössi is also plagued by imaginary enemies: cloves of garlic that he finds in his own bags, and drops outside the boundaries of his land. Then Gössi destroys them with a kitchen hammer, chasing them round the stage as they splinter after each hit. Like the flag that threatens to overcome him, these opponents only become dangerous as a direct result of what Gössi does.
After half an hour, Gössi has re-imagined the performance space as, in turns, a home, a place for leisure, and a site for battle. His land conquered and lost, the only thing left for him to do is leave.