The Anatomy Lesson - A Forensic Fairytale

Excavations project (2000-2007) - Forensic performance

Text, concept, directing, crocheting, embroidery and performance: Marijs Boulogne
Dramaturgy: Marianne Van Kerkhoven
Live video, endoscope and performance: Hadewych Cocquyt / Kaja Janjić / Julia Clever / Eva-Maria Schneider
Technical support: Tom De Roy / Borut Bučinel

Production: Buelens Paulina vzw
Partners: Glej Theatre, Ljubljana & City of Women - Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture, Ljubljana
Supported by the Flemish Community, sponsored by Storz Endoscope.

The Anatomy Lesson – A Forensic Fairytale (previous title Excavations: Episcopia) is the latest performance from the Excavations project (2002-2007).

In the performance Marijs Boulogne plays the leading role herself in collaboration with the live video artist and performer using a medical endoscope. During the first years of the Excavations project the role of the assistant was played by Julia Clever, now it is played by Hadewych Cocquyt or Kaja Janjić.

Apart from the Dutch version which has been invited to several art centres in Flanders and the Netherlands, Marijs also wrote a French version La leçon d’anatomie that was presented in Switzerland, Canada and France. The English version The Anatomy Lesson premiered in the Black Box theatre in Norway and was presented in Belgium, South Korea, Austria, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland and Slovenia.

In her performance The Anatomy Lesson Marijs Boulogne describes the decay and decomposition processes taking place in the dead body in an unusual way. Her patient is a baby delicately constructed of hand-made fabric. Crocheted and stitched together, the homunculus lies on the dissecting table, fitted with intestines, muscles and bones. With the aid of an endoscope the performers travel through the human dummy, diving ever deeper into the questions of life and death, beauty and liberation, searching for the divine within the material. Her role in this forensic fairy-tale shifts from the reserved surgeon to the loving mother. Spectators of this interactive anatomy theatre witness a mythical cycle of death, birth and dying and a philosophical-artistic transgression of the most bizarre kind.

The performance is based not only on art historical references, such as the Rembrandt’s painting De anatomische les van Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp) or Mona Hatoum’s video Corps étranger showing an endoscopic journey through the body, it is also an investigation into the existential trauma of losing a child, into the fragile corporeality.

The performance was performed in several languages (English, Dutch, French)
The English language version premiered in Belgium as The Anatomy Lesson – Forensic Fairytale

16 February 2007 - Theatre Arsenic, Lausanne, Switzerland (French language premiere)
16 August-02 September 2007 - Zürich Theaterspektakel, Zürich, Switzerland
18-19-20 October 2007 - Black Box Teater, Oslo, Norway: (Excavations: English language premiere)
26 October 2007 - Studio 303, Montréal, Canada
27 October 2007 - Studio 303, Montréal, Canada
20, 21 November 2007 - Theaterproduktionshaus BRUT, Vienna, Austria
19 September 2008 - Toneelhuis Bourla, Antwerp, Belgum (Dutch language premiere)
11, 12 June 2009 - Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt, Germany
13, 14 April 2010 - Bo:m Festival, Séoul, South-Korea
12 May 2010 - CC De Warande, Turnhout, Belgium
12, 14 November 2010 - Entropia Festival, Berlin, Germany         
22-24 January 2011 - Theater Bellevue Amsterdam, Netherlands
12, 13 May 2011 - DieUntoten Congress, Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany
23 September 2011 - Schouwburg Kunstmin, Dordrecht, Nederlands
1 & 2 October 2001 - Unravel Kunstenfestival Twentse Welle: Festival, Enschede, Netherlands,
12 October 2011 - TwentseWelle Museum, Enschede, Nederlands
22, 23 January 2013 - Glej Theatre and City of Women Association, Ljubljana, Slovenia
24 January 2013 - Figuren Theater Forum (Münchner Stadtmuseums) Munich, Germany
16 & 17 September 2015 Schwankhalle, Bremen, Germany
3 & 4 May 2019 - Westfluegel LeipzigGermany

Video presentations

Re-act.feminism: Collaborative project across Europe (performing archive) - The Anatomy Lesson (Video, colour, sound, 42:19 min, 2007)
October 2011 - January 2012 Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
March 2012 - Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb, Croatia
April 2012 - Wyspa Art Institute, Gdansk, Poland
June-August 2012 - Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark
September 2012 - Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia
October-December 2012 - Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain
June-August 2013 - Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany

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

Photo gallery@MementoImage by Nada Žgank

ARTE TV, Life Science & Pulp Fiction - 24/06/11 -Die Untoten


Reviews / Documents / Technical Rider / Hi-res photos

  • 1.1_Anatomy_lesson_with_Julia_Clever_photo_by_giannina_urmeneta_ottiker
  • 1.2_Marijs_Boulogne_and_Julia_Clever
  • 2.1_Anatomy_lesson_with_with_Hadewych_Cocquyt_video_still
  • 2.2_Anatomy_Lesson_with_Hadewych_Cocquyt_photo_by_Conny_Winter
  • 3.1_Anatomy_lesson_with_Kaja_Janjic_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.2_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.3_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.4_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.5_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.6_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.7_Anatomy_lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 3.8_Anatomy.lesson_2013_photo_by_nada_zgank
  • 4_Anatomy_lesson_marijs_boulogne_portrait
  • 5.1_Anatomy.lesson_drawing_by_alice.lorenzi
  • 5.2_Anatomy_lesson_drawing_by_alice_lorenzi
  • 5.3_Anatomy_Lesson_drawing_by_Alice_Lorenzi
  • 6.1_Anatomy_lesson_colague
  • 6.2_Marijs.Boulogne.with.the.baby_photo_by_Ragna_Aurich
  • 6.3_Marijs.Boulogne_Anatomy.Lesson_announcement_Westfluegel.Leipzig_2019
  • 6.4_Anatomy.Lesson_Westflugel_Leipzig_2019

The Anatomy Lesson - video trailer (2013)

with Marijs Boulogne & Kaja Janjić (Glej Theatre & City of Women Association, Ljubljana, Slovenia)


video.still Anatomy Lesson with with Hadewych Cocquy 

The Anatomy Lesson - performance video (2011)

Die Untoten - Life Sciences & Pulp Fiction (Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany)

with Marijs Boulogne & Hadewych Cocquyt



The Anatomy Lesson - performance text in English

embed video plugin powered by Union Development
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  • Steel_wool_mesenterium_Marijs.Boulogne_2017
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