The word ‘Swelf’ is a neologism and it means the complete nervous system with its main organ the clitoris but seen as a whole. The poet and writer Joke van Leeuwen designed this new word especially for this project. The swelf incorporates the entire nervous system, from the viewpoint of its interactions with the clitoris or penis, the swelf’s main organs. Through creation of a spectrum of artificial genders, named ‘Swelves’, in different conductive materials, artificial autonomous nervous systems became educational gender specimens with anatomical precision. These crocheted robots visualize the strategies of titillation, coercion or other forms of impact on the lymbic signal, speech and spontaneous expressions which become poignant once the robots start 'talking'.
The swelves were made over the last 12 years in a series of open crochet workshops around the concept of gender, in different cultural centres by several (trans) men and women whose swelves might be considered unusual or unique, or on whom genital mutilation was perpetrated.
This project shows the different sensory motivators in the reproductive organs, how to activate the body's own autonomous nervous system and enable the limbic system to create it’s magic. We have an amazing organ, with a specific creativity function which produces the limbic system. It's basically generating signals to produce emotions and words to speak with, coming from your pelvic nerves, and from all what the old anatomy books described as connective tissue, deep inside your hips. This limbic signal is responsible for our musicality, language, words, and any spontaneous expression of the face, voice or hands. When you activate this system in a good and decent way, it thinks before you, but when you get badly attacked, in a violent coercion, or war torture, limbic signals shut down in complex ways, with specific effects on any expression of emotions. Artists of all gender can share their life mysteries, through colors and textures, sounds and dancing.
For the wide spectrum of artists from self-assigned genders the question “who are you and what do you feel” can be a challenge and a confrontation to answer, especially for those who had their pelvic nerves destroyed or partially destroyed. But for the wide spectrum of artists from self-assigned genders, and especially for those, who had their pelvic nerves destroyed or partially destroyed, or cruelly altered like in genital mutilation, this 'Who are you and what do you feel' question, is of course the challenge and a confrontation to answer on itself.
This artwork wants to work on the different steps of the ladder of consciousness, and finally leave it to the command of the autonomous nervous system. It contributes to the collective consciousness of who we are and what we feel.
The SWELF research process - the interactive womb sound interventions on self made steel wool mesentarium snare drum by Marijs Boulogne
23 September 2017, 2-6pm - SHE WAS LIKE, residency, open doors - Open Huis, Studio 1, De Grote Post, Oostende, Belgium
3-12 March 2017: ECO PUSSY - The continuation of the Interactive Womb exhibition - Eco Center, Gent
27, 28 January 2017 - THE INTERACITVE WOMB collective exhibition - Haekem Gallery, Brussels
SWELF related works:
Crochet Your Own Swelf, knitting and crochet workshop (2019)
My Nature - performance by Sophia Rodriguez, sculpture by Marijs Boulogne (2016)
The Origin of Things / T.O.o.T. /The Swelf - crochet sculpture (2012-2018)
Big Smile (2016)
Workplace of the Orgasm / W.o.t.O. (2015/2016)
Orgasmic Faces (2005)
Fuck me dead (2002)
Opening: Saturday, 13 Apr 2019 at 9:00 p.m.
Duration: 15 to 18 Apr (Sun – Thu): 5:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Marijs Boulogne is multi-tasking artist, crossing boundaries between playwriting, theatre, performance, music and visual arts. For many years, important elements of her work are related to her love for traditional female crafts, like crochet, embroidery and knitting, which she uses to connect with contemporary issues and develops in different media – installations, workshops, performances, lectures, etc.
As part of Syndicate 2019 , we are presenting five different events related to her on-going Swelf Cycle, conceived by herself or in collaboration with other artists. The Swelf Cycle is inviting people of different backgrounds to discover the complexity of their bodies and sexual organs and open up about issues of gender and sexuality in a playful way. The word ‘swelf’ is a neologism, invented by the poet and writer Joke van Leeuwen especially for the artistic activities of Marijs Boulogne. The swelf incorporates the entire nervous system, from the viewpoint of its interactions with the clitoris or penis, the swelf’s main organs.
Marijs Boulogne: Swelves
Here, she departs from traditional crafts and uses them in creation of a spectrum of artificial genders, named swelves, in different conductive materials. Artificial autonomous nervous systems serve as educational gender specimens with anatomical precision. Swelves were made by Marijs Boulogne over the last 12 years in a series of open crochet workshops around the concept of gender, in different cultural centres with the support of various interest communities. You can join in and make your own swelf at her workshop.
Swelves show the different sensory motivators in the reproductive organs, how to activate the body's own autonomous nervous system and enable the limbic system to create its magic. We have an amazing organ, with a specific creativity function which is supported by the limbic system. It's basically generating signals to produce emotions and words to speak with, coming from your pelvic nerves, and from deep inside your hips, the area old anatomy books usually described as connective tissue. This limbic signal is responsible for our musicality, language, words, and any spontaneous expression of the face, voice or hands.
Marijs Boulogne & Lize Blauw Verlooy: Betty Atari Robot Saves the World
Betty Atari Robot is the next step in The Swelf Cycle development. It is visualizing strategies of impact of sensory information on limbic signals, speech and spontaneous expressions which become poignant once the robots start communicating.
Betty Atari Robot is a recycled entity, based on the female nervous system. She is prone to emit communication patterns and likes to respond in a piezo-acoustic and electronic language. She is a construct, compiled from scratch, around a strong metal spinal column.
A recuperated body amplifying the minute sensations of own body parts through delays of stroking hand gestures. Her inner mechanisms are constructed with colliding tactical sounds together with an op-amp electronic heartbeat simulation. The entanglements of wires of electric nervous system carry positive and negative voltages, modulated in clusters of integrated circuits, supplemented by the sensory perception of light.
She runs on a very regular timer ic 555, sequencing her proto-feelings. She is a rebel sensitive compilation of emotive-sensory interfaces. Betty is an experimental autonomous healing device , gently emitting her slow pitch frequencies. She interacts with her environment and registers every touch of her metal acoustic nervous system.
Betty Atari robot is an active force, using sound and music as a way to overcome fear, destruction and aggression.
BETTY ATARI: Please come and try me
To exorcise yourself or your significant other
Reflect on nervous systems and
Let me activate your sensory motivators
Swelves crochet works: Marijs Boulogne, Wilfrieda Stroobants, Ester Joris and past workshops participants
Atari Robot Development: Lize Verlooy and Marijs Boulogne
Internship: Afroditi Anastopoulou
Opening Presentation in Ljubljana: Marijs Boulogne
Production: Buelens Paulina
Organised by: Emanat
In collaboration with: Alkatraz Gallery
Financial support: Ministry of Culture RS, City Municipality Ljubljana – Department for Culture, Flanders Department of Culture, Youth and Media
Marijs Boulogne: Swelves / Marijs Boulogne & Lize Blauw Verlooy: Betty Atari Robot Saves the World
In ‘My Nature’ the amazing performer Sophia Rodríguez, improvises and dances with a huge soft sculpture The Swelf by Marijs Boulogne. Be prepared for unforgettable beauty, hilarious comedy and surprising shape shifting, while she balances onto the highest sport on the ladder of consciousness - Improvisation. This direct and spontaneous show resolves any inhibits with simple humour and wit.
Beyond language borders, Sophia's performance opens up the realms of the universal language of spontaneous emotions, which are the same for all people. Although the sculpture is 10 meters bigger than Sophia, she expands herself and makes her body to be the biggest artwork in the room.
This new comedy embodies the tension between the social relationships, boundaries and the need to belong where all humans being move at. By letting herself became truly open, she allows us to connect with our own nature. She spontaneously invites everyone to come along in search for the deepest sound in her body that resonates with energy, she hums in different tones to find this inner vibration of connection and accord. While being her natural confident self, led by her intuition, she playfully gets the public unnerved and makes us love her as she is. All inhibitions dissolve as she lifts herself up into The Swelf, where a beautiful dance unravels between its folds. Without complexes, she continues to make jokes as she digs deeper to locate the source of self. The discovery of the clitoris, the neurologic antenna of femininity, wires her into a total spin out of control, here comes to show her vulnerability, that is also part of her absolute strength.
Whenever Sophia desires, Marijs Boulogne assists her on and off stage, performative or dramaturgically.
Performance, text: Sophia Rodríguez
Scenography: Marijs Boulogne
Production: Buelens Paulina vzw
crochet sculpture (2012-2018)
Prepare to see a revelation of a true goddess, commemorating the smiling Statue of Mary when Rosa of Lima was carried past. The Swelf consists out of thousands of intimate female shapes and folds in thick pink fabric. A thorough research into the unsurpassed forms of a Vulva resulted into a playground for adults, a place to swing naked, to slide, to climb, becoming happy like a newborn baby again. The flexible sculpture lives by the name (neologism) ‘The Swelf’ coming from the expression ‘Take care of your s(w)elf.’
It can move if you move it.
(About The Swelf sculpture history read the text The Origin of Things (T.O.o.T.) / The Swelf below)
MY NATURE EVENTS:
17 February 2019 - The Nature, The Swelf and 21 Apples - Tictac Art Centre, Brussels, Belgium
13 October 2018, 6-10pm - REALLY REAL, group exhibition - SECONDroom, Leuven, Belgium
25 March 2016 at 8:30 pm - RebOOT Volksr00m REvAMP; Syndi Kate Volksroom, Brussels
My Nature at SECONDroom Leuven, 2018, photos by Ilse Van Roy
crochet sculpture by Marijs Boulogne (2012)
This Sculpture can shift into many shapes, and surprise over en over again, depending how you hang it. The sculpture was created to be a mobile and dynamic and a female omni potent presence.
Dreaming of big sculptures as part of a playground for adults, like a circus on the inside of a giant crocheted female body, or its central meeting point of her nerves. This huge body of the clitoris together with the vulva was featured for the first time in March 2012 in The Grand Opening in Norway (with Joris Vercammen, Laura Verlinden, Bembo Davies), and in June 2012 as installation at the 38th Nordic Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Bergen, Norway. Later, the embroidery was animated by Hungarian-Romanian puppeteers Iza and Mircea Moss for the contemporary music theatre project Who Wants to be Holy? in deSingel in Antwerp, where it interacted with live compositions by the young composer Joris Vercammen. During the last years, the sculpture The Origin of things (T.O.o.T) is exhibited under a new name The Swelf. In 2016 improvised dance performance My Nature with this sculpture was conceived by Sophia Rodríguez in collaboration with Marijs Boulogne.
Concept: Marijs Boulogne
Crocheted by: Marijs Boulogne and Laura Verlinden with the help of Joris Vercammen, Eva Weerts, Iza Moş, Mircea Moş and Bembo Davies
Production: vzw. Buelens Paulina
Sponsor of material: Bekaert textiles International Group
13 October 2018, 6-10pm - REALLY REAL, group exhibition (T.O.o.T / THE SWELF - installation by Marijs Boulogne & performance by Sophia Rodríguez) - SECONDroom, Leuven, Belgium
23 September 2017, 2-6pm - SHE WAS LIKE (THE SWELF research process) + crochet sculpture exhibiton, residency, open doors - Open Huis, Studio 1, De Grote Post, Oostende, Belgium
1-3 June 2017 - X-POSURE, group exhibition (THE SWELF research process) + crochet sculpture exhibiton, Strangelove Queer Festival, Het Bos, Antwerpen
3-12 March 2017: ECO PUSSY - The continuation of group exhibition The Interactive Womb (crochet sculpture exhibition) - Eco Center, Gent
27, 28 January 2017 - Interactive Womb collective exhibition (crochet sculpture by Marijs Boulogne) - Haekem Gallery, Brussels
22 July - 7 August 2016 - The Swelf included in BIG SMILE crochet works exhibition (by Marijs Boulogne and Fadoma Osmane - Bleek, St. Niklaas, Belgium
25 March 2016 at 8:30 pm - The Swelf (T.O.o.T.) installation & performance by Sophia Rodríguez, (presented works by: Thomas Proksch, Sophia Rodriguez, Marijs Boulogne, Elpida Orfanidou, Fleur Khani, Micha Goldberg, Fleur Khani, Irina Lavrinovic, Asher Lev) @RebOOT \/olksr00m REvAMP; Syndi Kate Volksroom, Brussels
18-20 March 2016 - The Swelf (T.O.o.T.) installation (with Sophia Rodriguez) - Ladyfest Brussels (video)
18 February 2016 - The Swelf (T.O.o.T.), installation - Logos Tetrahedron, Ghent, Belgium
16-26 September 2015, The Swelf (T.O.o.T.) installation, Hand anlegen Festival, Schwankhalle foyer, Bremen, Germany
10-15 March 2014 - The Swelf (T.O.o.T.) instalation - WoWmen! Festival, Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium
September 2012 - The Swelf (1100 Virgins) as part of the performance WHO WANT'S TO BE HOLY?, animated crochet sculpture - deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
June 2012 - The Swelf (1100 Virgins) - 38th Nordic Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, installation - Bergen, Norway
March 2012 -The Swelf (1100 Virgins) The Grand Opening with Laura Verlinden, Eva Weerts, Bembo Davies) - Bergen Norway
- crochet works exhibition by Marijs Boulogne & Fadoma Osmane
Exposition of a growing collection of crocheted genders/nervous systems
22 July - 7 August 2016 (opening 22 July at 4pm) BIG SMILE crochet work exhibtion by Marijs Boulogne & Fadoma Osmane - Bleek, St. Niklaas, Belgium
- performative lecture by Marijs Boulogne:
This lecture will focus on different sensory motivators in the skin. It will also reveal how to activate the body's own autonomous nervous system and enable the limbic system with its specific creativity function. As limbic signals are responsible for musicality, language, words or any spontaneous expression of the face, hands or voice, its underlying system needs to be activated in a good and decent way.
Women artists can share life mysteries through colours and textures, sounds and dancing or just by staying quiet. They can be big, (un)recognized artists, unknowing how to say what they are. Yet, the question ‘Who are you’ only seems to be thoroughly answered by the gendered male with pelvic nerves that have never been disturbed by, for instance, giving birth. For the wide spectrum of artists from self-assigned genders and especially for those who had their pelvic nerves destroyed or cruelly altered as in genital mutilation, the question ‘Who are you and what do you feel’ is a challenge and confrontation at the same time. This lecture connects different sports of the ladder of consciousness, and will finally leave it to the command of the autonomous nervous system itself.
knitting and crochet workshops and performance
A first public crochet workshop about the autonomous nervous system entitled 'Workplace of the Orgasm' was first time presented between 6th and 12 October 2015 in De Warande ground floor. Workshop was concieved and conducted by Marijs Boulogne in collaboration with Wilfrieda Stroobants and Ester Joris. After sucesfull workshop, the performance with the same title took place at the opening of the theatre season in the library of the Cultural Center De Warande. The show was presetned on 12 September in the frame work of the event Le Village des Rêves Perdus (Theater Froefroe).
Workplace of the Orgasm (Werkplaats van het orgasme) - public crochet workshop photos:
Workpace of the Orgasm /performance
public crochet workshop & the performance by Marijs Boulogne, 2015/2016
Did you ever hear about the vestibule, the belly brain, or the original umbilical cord?
Let yourself be immersed in the world of the autonomous nervous system,
and visit the workplace of the orgasm, repairing constantly.
Meanwhile, phone calls keep on coming in...
Anatomical 3 D crochet work: Marijs Boulogne, Wilfrieda Stroobants, Ester Joris
Direction, concept, text: Marijs Boulogne
Performance: Marijs Boulogne, Wilfrieda Stroobants, Ester Joris
Direction and production assistent: Ellie Calis
Technician: Max (De Warande)
Production: Buelens Paulina vzw, Cultureel Centrum De warande (Turnhout, Belgium)
Thanks to Marc Maillard from puppet theater FroeFroe, Leen Goris and De Warande
(Show premiere 12 september 2015, De Warande, Turnhout, Belgium)
VIDEO EXCERPT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PGCD45zYOg
Workplace of the Orgasm - performance photos by Belinda Van Molle:
Crochet Your Own Swelf, knitting and crochet workshop (2019)
My name is Marijs. I use crochet cause it is a technique that allows recycling and colourful fiddling with fingers while chatting with friends and listening to music, as a form of ancient 3D printing.
We can make: little pussies, ovaries, vulvas, little cocks.
We can visualise our gender of preference, in its actual size and understand our body through copying it. And of course, our genitals are only the tip of the iceberg, of our complete nervous system, which is basically our organ to have fun and relax.
We work with cotton, ribbon, recycling fabrics, old cut up clothes, wool and other discarded rests of our life like dishwashing sponges, we each make a beautiful anatomically correct object to take home after the expo. You can come without anything, or bring the material you want to upcycle.
Crochet Your Own Swelf - public crochet workshop photos:
- 14-18 April 2019 - CROCHET YOUR OWN SWELF, knitting and crochet workshop - Syndicate of Outlandish Entities, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 19 March 2016 at 17.30 - WORKPLACE OF THE ORGASM - BIG SMILE - knitting workshop by Marijs Boulogne - Ladyfest Brussels, Le Brass, centre culturel de Forest
- 18 & 19 September 2015 - WORKPLACE OF THE ORGASM - interactive crochet workshop by Marijs Boulogne in the framework of KreativZeit, Bremen fair and Open Doors Day - Theatre Bremen in collaboration with Schwankhalle, Germany
- 7-12 September2015 - WORKPLACE OF THE ORGASM (Werkplaats van het orgasme) - public crochet workshop by Marijs Boulogne in collaboration with Wilfrieda Stroobants and Ester Joris - De Warande (ground floor), Turnhout, Belgium: 6 September - Official start of public crochet workshop 'Werkplaats van het Orgasme', about the autonomous nervous system (afternoon)
- 12 September 2015 at 8pm-12pm: Public showing of workshop results in the evening Le Village des Rêves Perdus (Theater Froefroe) on the occasion of the opening of the theatre season of the Cultural Center De Warande
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