Acting Facts. From Testimonies to Peers Commission, 1970
The My Lai massacre, the murder of an entire village by American troops, proved a crucial turning point in the Vietnam War. Numerous Vietnam veterans subsequently made statements before official as well as unofficial commissions about the many war crimes committed; the USA’s moral standing sank to a new low, and to justify the war to the public was no longer possible. The actor who recites soldiers’ statements in Acting Facts employs gestures so minimal as to suggest that he is an anti-monument: instead of being hewn from ‘immortal’ stone he acts in a time-based medium; he recalls, not glorious deeds but crimes; and with his every word he questions the validity of human and medial memory.
The end of the Vietnam War was as significant as the war itself had been horrific. That a so clearly superior military force had to end a war due to moral pressure on its own domestic front is probably rare in history indeed. Racism too, from an outsider’s viewpoint appears now to be a relic of the past: with a Black Minister of Defence, a Black Minister of Foreign Affairs and the recently nominated Black presidential candidate it seems that African-Americans may take the highest public office. Yet, talking to American intellectuals about the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements, one learns of their deep disappointment. Not few of them consider both projects to have failed entirely; racism is today merely more subtle and hence all the more effective; and the Iraq War along with Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, clear proof that the USA is carrying on seamlessly from where it left off in Vietnam.
Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, DE 2003, 10 Min., engl.