The Swelf 

Crochet works

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'.
Marijs Boulogne

 MG 9433-low

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


Related works (Various works):

The Origin of Things / T.O.o.T. - crochet sculpture (2012)

Big Smile (2016)

Workplace of the Orgasm / W.o.t.O. (2015/2016)

Excavations (2004-2007)

Orgasmic Faces (2005)

Fuck me dead (2002)




Reviews / Documents / Technical Rider / Hi-res photos


  • SHE_WAS_LIKE_THE_SWELF_research_De_Grote_Post_Oostende_2017
  • She_Was_Like_The.Swelf.project_Grote-Post_2017
  • She_Was_Like_The.Swelf.project_Grote.Post_2017
  • Steel_wool_mesenterium_Marijs.Boulogne_2017
  • _MG_9433-low
  • _MG_9455-low
  • _MG_9466-low
  • _MG_9467-low
  • _MG_9470-low
  • _MG_9479-low
  • _MG_9486-low
  • _MG_9496-low
  • _MG_9500-low
  • _MG_9502-low
  • _MG_9521-low
  • _MG_9528-low
  • _MG_9537-low
  • _MG_9542-low
  • _MG_9543-low
  • _MG_9548-low
  • _MG_9555-low
  • _MG_9578-low
  • _MG_9580-low
  • _MG_9585-low
  • _MG_9589-low