177 maps (in colour)
8 photographs (in black and white)
Size : 28×21,5 cm
ISBN : 978-2-9541059-0-1
Maps by Jacques Lin, Gisèle Durand,
Marie-Dominique Vasseur, Thierry Bazzana,
Jean Lin, Dominique Lin, Marie-Rose Aubert…
Descriptions by Sandra Alvarez de Toledo
transcribed from interviews with the authors of the maps.
Essay by Bertrand Ogilvie.
Essay by Bertrand Ogilvie – extracts
[…] Like the image slowly surfacing as a photograph develops in its chemical bath, or like the impression of a coin that appears progressively when a child determinedly rubs a pencil over its relief onto a thin sheet of paper, the tracing of these maps conjures up the geography of the parallel world in which these children live, and about which Deligny does not at first ask himself why they are unable to escape, asking instead why we are not present in it. From whence the initial project which was of seeking a way to be represented in this world, to find a disguise to appear in it in one’s own right. The map constitutes the path that leads us to this unsuspected place in which the mute child stands, and where the adult will be able to stand in turn, hoping to transform himself into a sign and become an opportunity for a relationship, an act. In Ce Gamin, là, he says, for example: “him, he didn’t go into the water / he was watching / and we thought about it / since there was no other / for him / what can we do/ to become water in his eyes”.
This is what the entire project of the maps is about: tracing a map that is simultaneously infinitely versatile, moving and fluid, yet made of fixed markers, repetitive and obsessive, a map of the world of these children whose essential feature is to be in some way above all there, here, to have been here, and there, and to carry as they moved along the common activities of adults, languaged beings whose journeys are on the contrary always literally made of words, meaning plans, finality, intentions, and wills to do. This is how, through a sort of choreographic invitation or provocation, paths and journeys, roamings and routes interweave until shared dances, both trivial and sublime, unpredictably appear around the most basic and essential gestures of life. Little by little, the autistic children join in the common activities. However, these seemingly identical activities must be named differently depending on who carries them out. The fact that they are shared, carried out in common, does not mean that they are identical. Washing, preparing, planning, cutting, cooking, distributing, and collecting: to do or to act? Deligny goes so far as to refuse to name what is happening then (imitation? training? emerging intentionality? inexplicable automatism?), in a decision to leave the door that was just passed through wide open, not reducing it to progress, healing, or an “exit from autism.” The term to act used for children, as opposed to adults’ do, enables him to leave the matter unresolved. Using the infinitive form also eludes the problem of the subject. As Nietzsche says, we are trapped in the prejudice of grammar that every verb requires a subject. Deligny’s writing deliberately eliminates this prejudice, which has to do with another habit of thought according to which what is human exists only through the temporal development of a consciousness that becomes a subject through its linguistic progress. In which case, it is space, the space of images, configurations, the arrangements of objects, what he callssimulacra, that trigger acts. But at the same time, it is not a matter of domestication, either, which would oppose the mute to those who speak, since the adults also have their infinitive, the do, that relates to their secret share of spatiality, to what might be called the pervasiveness of their “material civilization,” to the underlying domination, for them too, of objects and places. Acts are not quite dos… but aren’t dos also at times haunted by secret acts?
[…] The chronological order of presentation of the maps reveals both the aspect of continual research, always in progress, and the plurality of hands and eyes that traced them. They are a relatively clear reflection of the multiplicity of sentient experiences and always singular encounters that occurred between adults and children depending on each other’s idiosyncracies. One can get a clear view of the variety of approaches, from the earlier to the later maps, from the survey of tracings to the rapid sketching of gestures, from the realistic and naïve drawings to the more abstract, uncluttered ones.
This should therefore not be seen as one method, but rather as a spirit of research that is diffracted through myriad attempts to go where these children are, each in their own way, and to find a means of creating a bridge or a passage-way without ever believing that the relationship is established once and for all. As opposed to theoretical (indeed highly empirical) care protocols that are based on ready-made representations and instituted diagnoses, the goal was to implement a sensoriality that substitutes for the scheduled time of normalizing care an enduring attention to the space in which these children’s bodies locate themselves using forms, colours, smells, and rhythms. Deligny defines spatiality as a seventh sense (in addition to the five generally identified senses, to which he adds, for speaking humanity, the sense of history, the great history and the small, “one’s own history”). The space of living areas where language is no longer the dominant form of exchange, where it is dismissed because of the violence that it represents for children who are commanded to respond to what remains alien to them, is thus a space humming with signs, objects, places, and displacements that provides them with as many opportunities to act, in other words to join the dance of common life, to let their roaming drift towards environs in which they eventually enter into passive or active, contemplative or industrious consonances, harmonics, with the dos of the typicalhomo faber that surround and look after them with great attention.
[…] Deligny’s originality lies both in raising the question of “what is to be done?” (“with them” and not “about them”) before the question of knowing what to think of them, and to immediately turn this “doing” into something to be thought: an alternative anthropology, equally distant from psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and that is first and foremost a political anthropology, since the autistic young people appeared to him as requiring rethinking and implementing not a social relationship or a social bond (terms that always suggest a pseudo-obviousness that conceals both the “uneasiness” and conflictuality), but an extended political community that is redefined to include the figure par excellence of exclusion.
However, Deligny once again refused to express this underlying thought on thecommons within conventional self-righteous, programmatic, and vain discourse. He understood that this thought requires a different mediation in order to be effective: it is the production of these images, concept-objects, tracings, and a proliferating translucent iconography, which “do” rather than say or, even better, which write otherwise and other things. In that sense, the maps have more in common with what Bataille, as well as Deleuze, call “dramatizations,” or ways to continuously reveal, in Deleuze’s words, the “drama” that lies “beneath the logos,” in other words to show how underlying a discourse there is always a world of unconscious gestures and acts that constitute its veritable horizon.
[…] Deligny raises a wholly different question in the contemporary debate on autism, a question that “therapies” do not answer and do not even address: what kind of social bond can be established with a speechless being? He expresses an anti-normative position that may cause a scandal and be hotly debated, but he does not do so from a simple, normative position. We now know that the autistic individual “in general” does not exist, that if autism is a biological disease (as increasingly appears to be the case), this does not exclude, on the contrary, the possibility that the autistic person may also be psychotic or (understandably) neurotic, or that the psychoanalytic approach, for example, does not seek to cure autism but to enable psychic reorganization that allows an individual to live with the condition, to tolerate parents and adults who generally do not themselves tolerate the situation in which they are living. Deligny situates himself beyond such problems: his question does not address etiology (he would be more inclined towards genetics than psychogenesis), nor rehabilitation (which he dismisses as a form of violence against a child’s ways of being in the name of norms that are not his or hers), but rather the invention of a shared life, which is far from having no effect on the children’s “realization” or “flourishing.” A vital political issue, and thus a “topic,” rather than a “utopic” matter…
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