Marie-Josèphe Angélique is the name of a black slave in New France (Montreal, Canada, 1734), who was tortured, hanged and burned down to ashes. She was found guilty of setting a fire, burning down much of what is now known as Old Montreal. There is no consensus regarding her innocence neither about the motivations behind the fire. The conflicting interpretations of Marie-Angélique’s case seem to rather reflect our internalized notions on class, gender and race, than a factual analysis of the crime.
This experimental documentary employs found footage and subtitling as means to recover the neglected story of Marie Angelique and the history of slavery in Canada. The exclusion of this crime in dominant state narratives highlights the historical tensions surrounding racial collective memory. By recasting Marie Angelique as having white skin instead, the piece attempts to erase epidermalised difference by presenting an experience of the body and the face as fields of possibility enhancing our monolithic understanding of a racialised self. Employing the notion of facialisation by Deleuze, my piece makes the argument that our habit of associating epidermalised difference with identity, positions facialisation as a common monolithic racist figure complicit in nation-state and identity formation.