GB – Thank you. Yes, in fact it is one of my self-portraits from the Oneness series, which I did after the brain death in my sabbatical year: coming back to nature. I always had this need to be surrounded or to be in the nature, as I always had an incredible connection with fauna and flora, deeper than the one I have with humans. In this series I also play with rituals of life and death, as I needed to express that. The main photograph of that series is the first one I did after the brain death: a self-portrait with a bull’s horn in front. I was very weak physically, so I remember the engravings from the Paleolithic, very shamanic in which they bring the skills of the animals to give them more power and stimuli. This series is all about that, bringing the wisdom of nature back to myself, so I could heal myself and be well again. I found though that this photo of the cover shows well the human fragility: being brain, being body and being flower.
May I ask at what age you received your diagnosis? What was your childhood like growing up?
GB – I was first diagnosed when I was 13 years old. I studied in a private catholic school, and was spending all my breaks in the library, never played football with any colleagues, so I was often (lightly) bullied by all, including family and teachers. But at the same time, I was intelligent and creative. I was also awkwardly shy, so I always enjoyed spending the whole time alone, in my own corner, reading, writing or drawing, away from the lights and noises and smells. This is a nightmare when they often impose you to participate in team work/play. So I often spent the time hidden, building my own inner world. The library was the perfect place, behind the last shelves: philosophy/psychology/sociology.
I like how you talk about the world not needing labels. How do you see the label of Asperger’s? Is it helpful to have been diagnosed and what have been your experiences when others have learned of your diagnosis?
GB – It was indeed helpful, even though at the time it was a shock for me because we didn’t have that much access to information like we have now. There was no internet yet, as there was not much concept of Asperger’s. At the time, if you heard of autistic people you often thought of less intelligent people, but my IQ tests proved the opposite, so it was confusing: I was autistic but intelligent. This then changed a lot of my perception of labels and preconceived ideas that one can have. Also the tests showed that I was deeply sensitive or hyperconscious to noise, smell, light and colors etc., and not very receptive to sarcasm either. …
To read more of this interview and view more stunning photographs – purchase your copy in your favourite format in the June edition of Autistic Spectrum Digest.
The Sacred Book of G, by Gonzalo W. Bénard is available to buy on Blurb here
You can find Gonzalo’s blog about his book over at The Sacred Book of G https://thesacredbookofg.wordpress.com/
Gonzalo’s website can be found at G W Benard