Seeing Blackness: Found Footage and the Archive as Modes of Investigation in the Hanging of Marie-Josèphe Angélique


  • Victor Arroyo



media culture, found footage, visual culture, experimental filmmaking, research-creation, experimental documentary, identity politics, critical heritage


Marie-Josèphe Angélique was a black slave in New France (Montreal, Canada) tried for setting a fire, burning down much of what is now known as Old Montreal. She was brutally tortured and hanged, her body eventually burned to ash in 1734. Over the last years, there has been an increased national interest in the figure of Marie-Josèphe Angélique, however, scholars and authorities have not come to an agreement about her hanging. Some speculate that the authorities, under pressure from an enraged population seeking a scapegoat, took the easy way out and condemned Angélique. Others believe that Angélique was determined to undermine the slave system and started the fire as revenge against her owner. I decided to explore these racial anxieties through my experimental documentary Anna O and the Case of Displaced Memory (2017), in which I used the hanging of Marie-Josèphe Angélique as an entry point to explore the relationship between the constitution of a racialized self, racial representation and the construction of collective memory, employing found footage as a mode of inquiry and aesthetic exploration into notions of appropriation, documentation and intertextuality.


Article received: December 28, 2017; Article accepted: January 10, 2018; Published online: April 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper


How to cite this article: Arroyo, Victor. "Seeing Blackness: Found Footage and the Archive as Modes of Investigation in the Hanging of Marie-Josèphe Angélique." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 15 (2018): 147–158. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i15.238

Author Biography

Victor Arroyo

Victor Arroyo

Faculty of Fine Arts, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec

Victor Arroyo (1977) is a video artist working in the intersections between documentary, video art and installation. He has lectured in Concordia University, Carleton University and the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, and his work has been exhibited most recently at The Canadian Centre for Architecture CCA, Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal RIDM, Santa Fe International New Media Festival, among many others. Founder of POLLO, a Moving Image House based in Montreal, Canada.


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How to Cite

Arroyo, V. (2018). Seeing Blackness: Found Footage and the Archive as Modes of Investigation in the Hanging of Marie-Josèphe Angélique. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (15), 147–158.