The Blood-Red Heart of Johanna Darke

Gunilla Josephson

2006, 98:00 minutes, colour, english/french


The Blood-Red Heart of Johanna Darke is a provocative engagement with the city of Paris and with the image of La Resistance as a mythology of history and entertainment.

In 1940, Johanna Darke, a novice from a convent in Quebec, arrives in Paris to study architecture, with the desire to design and build a church. Soon after the Nazi occupation of Paris, Johanna becomes involved as a messenger for the Resistance. She is betrayed, arrested by the Gestapo and subsequently vanishes. It is presumed she was executed. No further trace of Johanna exists. Johanna is a passive/aggressive anti-heroine in the mythology of patriotism, a female equivalent to the alienated character of Mersault in Camus' L'étranger.

I am interested in blurring the accepted distinctions by which we define the world. For instance, I see no problem in equating and conflating the image of the heroic resistance fighter of the Maquis with the pathetic poignancy of the Pierrot figure in Watteau's painting that hangs in the Louvre.

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Critical Writing

A pianist and a camera make music of the id
by Gary Michael Dault. The Globe and Mail, Apr. 25, 2009.
Gunilla Josephson Artist-in-Residence: E.V.E. Absolute Matrix
by Sewil Otosed. Gunilla Josephson Artist-in-Residence, Apr. 4, 2009. Toronto: Trinity Square Video, 2009.