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

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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:

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)

Excavations (2004-2007)

Orgasmic Faces (2005)

Fuck me dead (2002)


My Nature
Improvised performance (2016) 

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


The Swelf
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) 


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 

18-20 March 2016 - Ladyfest Brussels (video) 


My Nature at SECONDroom Leuven, 2018, photos by Ilse Van Roy

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The Origin of Things (T.O.o.T.) The Swelf

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

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Big Smile 

- 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

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- 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.

5 June 2016 at 8pm, bio-micro residency, lecture/performance on the nervous system with anatomical models by Marijs Boulogne - The Other the self #3, Q-O2 Brussels / (photos)

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Workplace of the Orgasm (W.o.t.O.) (Werkplaats van het orgasme) 

public crochet workshop & the performance by Marijs Boulogne, 2015/2016

A 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 - public crochet workshop photos:

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Workpace of the Orgasm /performance

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)


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


Workplace of the Orgasm - performance photos by Belinda Van Molle:

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Reviews / Documents / Technical Rider / Hi-res photos


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