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Manifeste Janmari (The Janmari Manifesto). 2021. France. Directed by Florian Fouché. Produced with the support of Centre national d’arts plastiques – CNAP and Bétonsalon - centre d'art et de recherche, Paris. In French; English subtitles. 45 min.
“A non-verbal manifesto. I bring together two characters: Janmari and Philippe. Janmari is an autistic child whom educator and writer Fernand Deligny met in 1967, and with whom he remained until his death. Janmari is the most well-known personality among the experimental network Deligny created for non-verbal autistic children. The essential idea was to create an environment which would provide the children with an alternative form of mobility. Janmari emerges from this story as an exceptional being, endowed with special capacities, and a gestural language all his own. My intent was to discover to what degree Janmari and his world might constitute a model, or even a manifesto. The other character, Philippe is my father, Philippe Fouché. A stroke he suffered in 2015 left him paralyzed on one side of his body. Now he lives in a care facility and is confined to a wheelchair. Janmari and Philippe both require assistance. As does everyone, from the most powerful to the powerless. Nothing and no one exists alone. We are all both assistants and assisted. Around a hundred “close actions” with Philippe and others have been filmed over the course of these last months of the pandemic, initially at 10, Rue Saint Luc, the Paris atelier of L’Arachnéen (Spring–Summer 2020), then at Bétonsalon, and the Robert Doisneau EHPAD (senior home) in the Spring of 2021. Deligny’s life’s work with autistic people led him to the notion that we all perhaps possess a memory “that was in a sense resistant to symbolic domestication, somewhat absurd, one that would be struck by that which has no meaning, if you take ‘struck’ in the sense of imprinted. I like this idea of a memory that is ‘somewhat absurd’ – absurdity is liberating.” – Florian Fouché
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