On the occasion of the release of Richard Copans’ film Monsieur Deligny, vagabond efficace, the focus on Fernard Deligny and his work is completed by an exhibition of his lignes d’erre :
In 1966, Fernand Deligny published a text titled “Journal d’un educateur” (Diary of an Educator) in the review Recherches, founded by Félix Guattari. In it, he creates the resonances of three moments in his life which are also three of his research themes: the Armentières psychiatric hospital (northern France) where he was a teacher in a young people’s hospital wing from 1938 to 1943; the Communist Party (of which he was member); and the war.
This text is the pivotal point between two periods. Before: Deligny, the libertarian educator, responsible for the first preventive clubs for delinquents in Lille and the first observation and triage centre, the author of Graine de crapule (A Budding Scoundrel) and Vagabonds efficacies (Efficient Vagabonds), and finally the founder of La Grande Cordée (1948), an association caring for adolescents “in open treatment” (President: Henri Wallon). After: the meeting with Janmari, “the twin of Victor de l’Aveyron”, the departure for the Cévennes in 1967 to organise a care network for autistic children, outside of any institution, in a rural setting, with “close presences”: workers, country folk, students, unemployed people (no professional teachers). And to conduct research both in the field and through writing – anthropological research into the possibilities (of shared living, thinking and perception) of a radically different mode of being, outside language. Before / After: this involves always adopting the “position” of the delinquent or autistic child, inventing an environment, giving asylum.
For Deligny, writing is a constant activity, a permanent laboratory for his practice as educator. During his life, he published some fifteen books and when he died (1996) he left thousands of unpublished pages (essays, stories, short stories, scenarios, tales). He was searching for a language in which to speak (about) those who do not speak. He had always been interested in filmmaking: he did not use the movie camera but saw to it that a camera was circulated in the living areas: to make films (see the Cinéma du Réel programme), to not make them, to “see”, to send images to the parents. Unheard-of gestures are inscribed on the celluloid.
In the late 1960s, Deligny invented “the maps”. In each living area, “close presences” (Jacques Lin, Gisèle Durand-Ruiz, among others) map their trajectories, then, on tracing paper, the movements and gestures of the autistic children. Lines criss-cross, interact, spatial intersections are repeated: a territory emerges, traversed by the children’s actings and the others’ doings, marked by landmarks. The search for the adult’s “point of view” on the child is in vain: these maps are the immediate imprint of a common body formed by sequences of gestures, according to a communication network that replaces meaning and the spoken word with silence and rhythm.
Sandra Alvarez de Toledo / Edition L’Arachnéen
Exhibition : Centre Pompidou, au Forum -1
Focus : Centre Pompidou et MK2 Beaubourg
from Friday March 13th until Sunday March 22nd 2020