Marisa and Jesse
"Our story is somewhat profound and intriguing; it’s the tale of two rebel artists who shocked anyone who was easily offended, but mainly governments and religions, by creating some of the most controversial photos that have ever been seen, and surely they will never be replicated again. How controversial, you ask? Well, we made global headlines for being arrested and banned in multiple countries; that's how much."
"I remember back when Instagram was taking off, there was this wild girl named Marisa Papen, whose whole concept was and still is doing everything naked, even in public. She was a very young Belgian Playboy cover model, nude expressionist, and activist. It was such brilliant art, and it had such a powerful message to it. Seeing someone so free really shows you how unfree you are, and most people hate to see that, but for me, I was completely intrigued by how authentic she was, and I knew I had to meet her. I had even emailed her with zero response, but later, as destiny would have it, on a trip to Bali in 2016, our paths directly crossed, and I ended up doing a few photos for her Plastic Sushi calendar, which highlighted the issue of ocean pollution."
"That night we chose the photos over dinner, and I was convincing her to come to Africa with me, showing her photos of my previous trips, and sure enough, about 6 months later, she agreed. Little did she know how chaotic it was going to be, but it was destiny."
"If I were to describe myself, it would be as someone who is a 100% social misfit and who very early chose not to fit into the ugliness of western society's mold. The sickeningly mundane culture of marriage, two children, drunken weekend living, and sports entertainment was never for me. The bland, cookie-cutter, and colorless culture of obedience is something I could never play a part in, not to mention the inauthenticity of those who chose to play a part in it."
"For me, the polar opposite of that is the way gypsies and tribes live, and this is why I’ve always been attracted to them—the colors and jewelry they wear and the way they express themselves through art, dance, and music. Their sheer beauty is entrancing, and If you're ever lucky enough to travel and experience their culture, you’ll be intoxicated by them, but beware because you’ll see how bland and controlled you are next to a completely free soul. And this is why I traveled to Africa and then India for my first two ENKI campaigns. It was my way of showing what I loved, but deep down, it was also a rebellion against what I was always told to see as beautiful but, for me, was so ugly and so bland. I never accepted the western idea of magazine cover beauty. To me, I saw it as bland and inauthentic, but why was I attracted to Marisa—a wild soul, a rebel against the disease of conformity, and a troublemaker with a beautiful cause?"
"I would describe our work as a screaming PJ Harvey smashing her guitar all over the stage while it wails in feedback screeching into the ears of the masses. When you see it, it’s impossible to ignore, and the message of rebellion and non-conformity is loud and clear; these are two genius qualities I've always loved. But why? What made us do this? It's simple: How dare people stick out when you should fit in?"
"It's really the full expression of two souls who just did what they loved without fear. They traveled and created beautiful art with profound messages. Two souls who chose never to conform and saw through society's and religion's agendas."
"What people can take from this is to find their passion and carve out their own path. Continual self-inquiry is needed: Who am I, and am I doing what I love? Am I expressing myself authentically as an individual, or am I just being a carbon copy and participating because I'm scared not to fit in?"
"Walk your own path. This is the most beautiful act of rebellion one can do: to find themselves and express themselves as individuals. There’s truly nothing more captivating than a truly free soul who is authentic and who is not controlled."