Public presentations, information session, installations, video projections, live video, theatre

In 2001, Marijs Boulogne began what would later become the Excavations project with the creation of an embroidered dress for a baby who could not live. The dress was exhibited at the Nieuwpoorttheater in Ghent, and various art venues in Roubaix, France in Brussels and Leuven, Belgium.

Between 2002 and 2004 Marijs Boulogne crocheted and embroidered an entire baby with a crochet needle and thread with much love and imagination, great dexterity and comprehensive anatomical knowledge. The preparation of this project lasted for several years. At first, she experimented with imitating little pieces of skin and organs. She made an enormous effort and created all the baby’s organs in full anatomical detail and correctly shaped its little bones out of salt dough. For more than a year she would study anatomical manuals and read surgical reports to learn about the organs she was reproducing and to become acquainted with the vocabulary of the medical discourse. Travelling frequently, she kept working on the baby. She made the placenta in Copenhagen, the kidneys in Italy, and continued her work on the intestines in Sydney. As the features of the baby began to grow, she started to get inquiring looks when having her baggage screened at customs. After ten months of work, when she finished the head and attached it to the body, she herself was astonished. The baby was beautiful. But it was also the saddest thing that she had ever seen. The positive reactions of audiences to the Excavations performances, which she had begun to stage during the creation process, convinced her that this anatomical embroidery enables her to address the questions she had set out to ask: ‘How to cope with a stillborn baby? How to deal with the perfect imperfect?’

She embroidered a baby in different phases evolved from the birth to the death of the child. Step by step, she developed the baby through 7 stages: from pregnancy to naming the baby "Pas". Each stage of the project expressed itself in a new form of a performance. An impressive trail was made along several art centres and festivals. Various branches of art were discussed: embroidery, performance, conceptual art, video, music, theatre. The content was very layered and loaded with wisdom; the different phases were not clearly defined. The process was about repetition, retelling, reformulating, rethinking, redefining.

Excavations: Pregnancy, 2004

After crocheting for 3 months in Australia, 2 months in Italy, and 2 months in France, all the baby’s body parts were finally ready and every detail in every fibre was checked, before the embroidered puppet could be "born".

Excavations took place in the venue La condition Publique in Roubaix, France during 4 days. Together with her "assistants", the filmmaker Julia Clever and the dramaturge Veerle Herremans, Marijs Boulogne performed in three different languages at the Lille 2004 and Brussels Rits Outsider Art tour inside her “laboratory” set before of a freely moving audience. The performances were conceived as a system in motion; 4 hour long interactive shows, playing with visualization and the ways to talk about "what we see". There were no rehearsals, no memorized words, everything happened as it happened.

16-17-18-19 December 2004  - La Condition Publique, Roubaix, France
2-3-4-5 February 2005 - Beursschouwburg, Brussels, Belgium
11-12 February 2005 - Theatre Antigone, Kortrijk, Belgium

Excavations: Excavation, 2005
(Dutch language version)

Excavations: Excavation, the baby came into the world via self-redemption. Marijs Boulogne performed an operation excising a little piece of mirror from her leg with a scalpel without anaesthesia. The mirror turned out to be a cyst and as such had to be excavated. The wound was sutured with three stitches. Her assistants (Veerle Herremans and Ragna Aurich and video artist Julia Clever) helped with good advice, held the wound open with crochet hooks, and kept everything sterile. After the wound was sutured with three stitches, the miracle healing was displayed with the delighted cries of the girls in the background. According to Marijs Boulogne, this video operation was perhaps a pubescent joke in a way. She felt the pain of the baby that could not live and she was in mourning, so she wanted to do something to visualise it in something which involved the control of mind over pain, in an operation of an ectoderm grown upside down and trapped somewhere in the mesoderm, which she performed without the use of anaesthetics.

16-17 March 2005  - Nieuwpoorttheater, Gent, Belgium: performance video presentation and conversation with the audience.

Excavations: Episcopia, 2005
(Dutch language version)

Excavations, was the beginning of the quest for the baby’s viability. In the performance Marijs Boulogne revealed what had happened to the dead baby through an autopsy. Had it been alive at all? The audience got to witness, among other things, how the video artist Julia Clever used an endoscope to get a closer look at the baby's (crocheted, naturalist) innards. On the body there were no traces of violence or disease to be found, but one could not say with certainty whether the baby had ever lived independently.

Text, embroidery, performance: Marijs Boulogne; live video, performance: Julia Clever, assistant: Veerle Herremans, dramaturge: Bart Capelle, Veerle Herremans

Supported by: Stuk, Timefestival, Nieuwporttheater, nOna, Beursschouwburg and the Flemish community.

11-13 April 2005 - Kunstencentrum STUK/Tijdelijk Autonome Zone, Leuven, Belgium 

24 October 2006 - De Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam, Nederland

Excavations: In Memories, 2005
(Dutch language version)

On the corpuscle brown spots appeared that never had to be washed. Every day there were more caterpillars crawling around the body, and had to be born again as moths. Every day the story was a bit longer, and so, finally, the baby descended from the Mother to rot and mold. Marijs had to make clothes for her newborn. Thanks to the storz endoscope sponsor, the embroidered baby could tour with a real endoscope. upon the invitation of time festival by the curator peter verhelst, a tryout and 8 performances were scheduled to take place in the cave in the gent city theatre. the rotting process with the collaboration of colourful fauna started to happen. it was a glorious time of discovering the interplay of the endoscope with the embroidery.

Text, embroidery, performance: Marijs Boulogne; live video, performance: Julia Clever

14 May 2005 - Theater Gasthuis, Amsterdam, Nederland

20-23 and 27-30 April 2005 - TIME festival, Schouwburg, Gent, Belgium

4 July 2006 - Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg, Switzerland - French language version presented under the name Excavations: Excavation (Interactive)

Excavations: Fresh but rotten, 2005
(Dutch language version)

In Fresh but rotten, the fifth part of the Excavations series, Marijs plays the role of Mother Hein, who accompanies the corpuscle on its journey through various stages of decay. By highlighting the beauty of the decay processes, the artist wants to make the thought more powerful than death. She wants that dead child to demonstrate the miracle of life.

Accompanied by Jim Denley, a composer for wind instruments, and a live filmmaker and endoscope visualiser Julia Clever, Marijs Boulogne plays a 50-minute performance, a goodbye ritual for her embroidered decomposing baby, together with live rose beetles and snails and caterpillars crocheted and embroidered by herself.

Text, crocheting, embroidery and performance: Marijs Boulogne; video and images: Julia Clever;
music: Jim Denley;
dramaturgy: Veerle Herremans
technician: Ton De Roy
Special thanks to Bart Capelle, Geert Opsomer and Marianne Van Kerkhoven/Kaaitheater
Production: Buelens Paulina, Stuk, Beursschouwburg, Nieuwpoorttheater, TIME-festival, kc nOna en
Mechelen 2005 vzw

7-9 October 2005  - Stad in vrouwenhanden, Kunstencentrum nOna, Mechelen, Belgium

Excavations: Report, 2005

Drawing from videos of the work process and the performance with beetles, the solo in the Vooruit Art Centre (unfortunately performed with a broken foot) was an attempt to synthesize all former processes: PregnancyFresh but rotten and Memories into a difficult solo, which later became The Anatomy Lesson

Text, embroidery, performance: Marijs Boulogne; live video, performance: Julia Clever

9-11 November 2005  - Vooruit, Gent, Belgium

Excavations: Pas, 2006

During the synthesis of Pas, a whole laboratory of new baby activities developed into an interactive workshop with the audience. The cast was enriched with local amateur actors and one could meet gods like the Bone Man and the Intestinal Tube Lady. A girl felt her own brains then they got lost mysteriously. Marijs receives extra coaching by Lotte Van Den Berg and her sister Jasmijn Van Den Berg.
Concept/crocheting: Marijs Boulogne; image/video: Julia Clever; with: Marijs Boulogne, Julia Clever, Tom de Roy, Jan Philips, Paulti and Wilfrieda Stroobants; dramaturgy and coaching: Marianne Van Kerkhoven, Lotte van den Berg and Jasmijn Van Den Berg
Production: Buelens Paulina vzw; supported by: Kaaitheater, Kc Stuk, Time Festival 2005, Kc nOna, Stad in Vrouwen-handen, Beursschouwburg, Vooruit, Huis aan de Werf Utrecht and the Ministry for the Flemish Community.

16-18 February 2006 - public tryouts, soirée van het Huis aan de Werf, Utrecht, Netherlands
24-25 February 2006 - Kaaitheaterstudio’s, Brussels, Belgium – Dutch language premiere 
8-9 March 2006 - Kunstencentrum STUK, Leuven, Belgium
22 April 2006 - Kunstencentrum BELGIE, Hasselt, Belgium
18-21 May 2006 - Festival aan de Werf, Utrecht, Nederland
1 July 2006 - Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg, Switzerland (performance entitled Frais mais déjà pourri) - French language version
8-9 November 2006 - Nieuwpoorttheater, Gent, Belgium
1-2 December 2006 - De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, Nederland

Excavations: The Anatomy Lesson – A Forensic Fairytale, 2007

The Anatomy Lesson is the latest English language version of the third Excavations phase previously entitled Episcopia. More about this performance here .

Exhibition with the "baby" :

Do Not Touch My Baby
(embroidery, video, sound)
10. 1 - 8. 2. 2009 - Playtime (group exhibition) - de Warande, Turnhout, Belgium
23. 5.  15. 6. 2008 - the Canvas collection (group exhibition), Bozar, Brussels, Belgium


Anatomy Live: performance and the Operating Theatre, M. Bleeker, Amsterdam University Press, 2008 (Performance documentation II: Fresh but Rotten – text by Laura Kerreman / pdf)

Welkom in het anatomische theater van Marijs Boulogne (Cocagne Artistieke Vrijstaat blog)

Reviews / Documents / Technical Rider / Hi-res photos


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  • 2.1_excavations_making of the baby
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  • 3.1_excavations_internal organs
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  • 4.1_excavations pregnancy_ roubaix 2004
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  • 5_excavations_episcopia_drawing by alice lorenzi
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  • 7.1_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.2_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.3_excavations_fres .but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.4_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.5_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottike
  • 7.6_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.7_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 7.8_excavations_fresh but rotten_pas_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 8.1_excavations report_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 8.2_excavatons report_photo by.giannina urmeneta ottiker
  • 8.3_excavatons_report_photo by giannina urmeneta ottiker

Excavations: Excavation, 2005

Excavations: In Memories, 2005

Excavations: Fresh but rotten, 2005

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