Bodies, performance and performativity in the documentary film The Act of Killing are analysed. Bodily practices call attention to power and function as carriers of collective memory, parallel to the performative nature of premodern sovereign power as theorised by Foucault. The right of death coexists with the power over life in the form of (Indonesian) state racism, where “massacres have become vital” and the power to kill runs the entire social body. The Act of Killing neglects the fact that modern power also functions as a surveillant (Western) gaze; however, the Indonesian mass murderers openly perform and thereby remove the illusion of the reality of the stage the film sets them on. By displacing Hollywood film citations, they force the law of the dominant (Western) ideology into re-articulation and become “bad subjects”.
The integral (Slovenian) version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!