Arrests, Controversy, and Unyielding Freedom - The Daring Journey of Jesse Walker and Marisa Papen"
"I found myself irresistibly drawn to Marisa," like two free souls intertwining in a world suffocated by conformity—a rarity, a profound beauty. As time unfolded, the depth of our connection and the artistry we birthed together unfolded before my eyes, filling my heart with boundless gratitude for this fateful encounter.
"With a divinely orchestrated soul agreement," we fearlessly ventured into the realms of danger, assured of protection from unseen forces. "A knowingness held me tightly," an assurance that no matter the circumstances, we would emerge unscathed.
"Unapologetic rebels, both of us," leaped into destiny's embrace. "A mere half-year in each other's presence," and we had already left our indelible marks—arrested in Egypt, causing waves of mayhem in Turkey, and once more ensnared by the law in Italy. "Our very beings reveled in dismantling the little worlds woven by cultures and religions," basking in notoriety, global headlines, and all-consuming controversy. "Thriving amidst the chaos, our spirits soared."
"To inquire about the reason for our actions," I would only say that plans eluded us. Spontaneity danced through our beings as we embraced our authentic selves—two non-conformists liberated in their pursuits. "The photographs we captured carry different meanings for each beholder," and for me, they embody liberation and rebellion, two virtues I've cherished eternally.
"A precious rarity graced the world in Marisa—a soul unchained, untamed, and uncontrolled." Oh, the exquisite beauty of witnessing such authenticity! "As humanity's consciousness evolves," the power of the art we co-created will amplify, its impact reaching far beyond the bounds of the visible.
"The choice awaits every soul—to crawl obediently, enslaved by programmed illusions, or to rise gallantly, unveiling the essence within." "A birthright bestowed upon all—a birthright of freedom, unlimited and unrestrained."
Soon after in 2016, literally within days of landing, the couple caused a firestorm. In Egypt, when they were escorted off the Giza plateau for shooting Marisa naked, Walker said they were actually caught the day before by a guard and his very young son; however, he smoothed it over with a bribe.
The second time, there was a group of guards who had been closely watching them. Egypt is like that. If anything gets a little bit of attention, local authorities are watching.
They were shooting way out of sight in the desert, overlooking the pyramids, when all of a sudden they saw the Jeep screaming over the sand dunes towards them. He threw Marisa her clothes and deleted the photos, knowing he would retrieve them later with data retrieval software.
The Surma Tribe of The Omo Valley Ethiopia
In 2017, the pulse of adventure led Jesse and Marisa to Ethiopia's untamed wilderness. As the fervor of Egypt simmered, they sought refuge in the mystique of the Omo Valley. Guided by Jesse's intrepid friend, the duo delved deep into the heart of the valley, encountering the enigmatic Surma tribe. A mesmerizing dance of paint and tradition began as Marisa and the tribe intertwined, unashamedly naked, in an initiation of soulful connection.
Their camera lenses froze fleeting moments of ancient rituals and untamed beauty, capturing images never before witnessed. In a mesmerizing dance of freedom and art, the Surma tribe welcomed the visitors, baring their souls and embracing the lens with fearlessness.
Returning to Egypt, Arrested in Luxor
A couple of weeks later, they returned to Egypt, but this time to Luxor, home of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and by sunset on that very same day, they were arrested and held in custody for Jesse photographing Papen naked in the incredible Karnak temple. Luckily, Walker, knowing he had data retrieval software, immediately deleted the photos from his camera, just as the temple guards apprehended both of them. Walker said the temple guard was furious when he grabbed the camera and could see the files being deleted. He screamed in frustration, knowing they would be let loose.
Local police interrogated them for hours, even going to their hotel to attempt to seize their laptops and phones as evidence. However, the local owners didn't take a liking to the authorities because of some previous politics and refused them entry into their rooms. Luckily, because who knows how it would have turned out if they had gotten into their hard drives? Even still, they were held over the night and then strangely faced Luxor Court very early, at around 4 a.m. the next morning.
The whole time in Egypt, Marisa wore a local Men's Galabeya dress with nothing underneath so she could quickly remove it for shoots, and during court, unbeknownst to the judges, she was completely naked underneath. Walker said he couldn't believe the judges didn't even pick it up. He knew if they had asked her if she was naked underneath, they would have been in serious trouble. However, due to the lack of evidence with no photos, the judges had no choice but to release them, but not without a stern warning that if they were caught again, they would immediately face jail.
Not long after they left Egypt, It was a huge slap in the face for authorities when the duo released the photos to the press, which stirred up huge controversy that they both thoroughly enjoyed. They even featured on page 3 of The New York Post a full-page picture of one of Walker's photos of Papen stark naked in front of the pyramids of Giza, titled "Going Tuts Up." Model and photographer jailed over nude photoshoot "The Egyptian authorities shut down their websites and blacklisted the couple from entering Egypt again.
Both Marisa and Jesse had thousands and thousands of hits on their web pages and a firestorm of press wanting to know the story of what actually took place.
Defying Religious Control and Running Wild in Istanbul
In the year 2017, against the backdrop of a society steeped in religious control, a single photograph emerged from the lens of Jesse Walker, forever etching itself in the annals of controversy. The image depicted Marisa Papen, donned in a full black burqa, standing within the iconic walls of the Sofia Hagia—a powerful symbol of defiance, stripping away religious constraints to reveal her naked body to a large crowd. This provocative act was a resolute statement, defying the non-equality of women and challenging the suffocating grip of religious influence.
Walker, ever aware of the precarious line they walked, spoke of their divine guidance and protection, as if unseen forces shielded them from the serious dangers that loomed. Their journey, however, continued to be riddled with obstacles and adversity.
As their footsteps echoed through the vibrant streets of Istanbul, destiny guided them to Mount Nimrod, a majestic peak adorned with the ancient Greek gods. Yet, local authorities keenly aware of their intentions, followed their every move, ensuring they were kept from capturing the awe-inspiring beauty of the snow-capped mountain. Although the yearning to immortalize their vision burned within, Walker acknowledged the grim reality—they would face imprisonment should they proceed. Accepting their fate, they pressed on.
Undeterred by the challenges that plagued their path, they ventured to Cappadocia—a place where enchantment dances upon the horizon. There, amidst the vibrant streets, Marisa boldly took the wheel of a vintage car, embarking on a surreal journey through the town, her body exposed to the world. As the sun kissed the sky, filling it with a tapestry of colors, the spellbinding sight of Marisa amidst the balloon-filled sunrise unfolded before Walker's lens, capturing an ethereal moment that defied conventions and ignited the imagination.
The culmination of their audacious campaign arrived with an iconic photograph—Marisa against a vivid red backdrop, her nipples adorned with a painted Turkish flag. The release of this image unleashed a tidal wave of global press, thrusting Walker and Papen into the epicenter of outrage. Turkish authorities, in response to their unyielding defiance, issued an international press release, damning Marisa Papen with an arrest warrant carrying a four-year jail term. Protests erupted outside the Belgian consulate, further fueling the fire of controversy. Yet, amidst the chaos, Jesse Walker remained unthreatened, a stark reminder of the irrationality that often permeates the actions of individuals and governments alike.
Turkey became the stage for their audacious rebellion—a clash of ideologies and a testament to their unyielding spirits. Marisa Papen's daring acts, immortalized through Walker's lens, served as a rallying cry against religious control, and their controversial journey ensured their names would forever be etched in the annals of defiance.
Rome, Italy: A Chaotic Adventure of Naked Feats and Escapes
Within a year the duo again travelled to Rome Italy in 2018 where they spent around 10 days shooting. However, once again they were arrested in Vatican Square by the Vatican City Police for Marisa sitting naked on a bible directly in front of the Vatican. After all the close calls, I began to know my rights, and when the police asked to open our phones, I flatly refused and told Marisa not to open her phone either. However, they separated us and somehow convinced her to unlock it. At that stage, they found our Airbnb address and saw a bunch of shots of her naked with the crucifix. They Googled our names, found all of the stories of Egypt and Turkey, and accused us of being activists. Literally, the whole police station then proceeded to raid our Airbnb flat. Once inside I refused to open my laptop; luckily, otherwise, they would have found the iconic crucifix shot I had of a few days before and taken the hard drive, and who knows, maybe all of our gear. We were held for the whole day in a small cell. I remember the review the guy gave for his apartment: "Host Marisa and his friend Jesse were a new experience; they left the apartment tidy and clean." Goodbye!
We warned that if we were caught again, our gear would be confiscated and we would be jailed. The very next morning, we were at it at around 8 a.m., and I shot Marisa coming out of a taxi, nude, in front of one of Rome's biggest tourist destinations, the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II. A plainclothes official turned up screaming and radioed the police in. He tried in vain to ask for our passports. He was horribly overweight, and I sensed his fear. I knew he would not be able to chase us; we could see the police coming straight for us, and I said to Marisa, "On the count of three, are you ready?" 1, 2, and 3: Marisa and I bolted across the huge main road; a small Vespa almost ran straight into me while I was skidding; we ran through the back alleys of Rome; and luckily, we got away eventually hiding in a small cafe. The police did show up but didn't come inside and eventually disappeared.
So much strange stuff happened on that trip. I remember we were shooting another concept of Marisa's, which was her being raped by men dressed as priests, and while we were shooting the buzzer started to ring. The guys freaked out, and it just continued. There were two men standing outside with their fingers on the buzzer for maybe an hour. Eventually, they left, and we never knew who they were or what the fuck they were even doing.
We ate incredibly, and after a wild ride of about a week, Marisa left a few days before me. I remember walking through customs and handing the officer my passport. He typed my information in and just stared at the computer and then me, in total shock for what seemed like a very long time. I swore I was going to be arrested at the border. It was a strange moment, and he eventually stamped my passport. As I walked through Rome, Marisa called me. I told her what just happened, and she said, "I'm so happy you're through; it's all over the media." People had been filming us and putting it up on Italian blogs; it had gone completely viral: a photographer and a naked model running around Rome and shooting in front of all the major icons. It was an incredibly wild trip, and we again made global headlines.
Williamsburg New York USA
Around early 2019, the couple traveled to New York to shoot at the Jewish Purin Festival. The concept wasn't Jesse's or Maria's, but one of Marisa's new art dealer acquaintances.
Jesse stated the only reason he flew to New York was because this guy was going to be there, and at that stage, he had already sold one of Jesse's photos of Marisa in Italy for fifty thousand euros, and no one had been paid.
By the third day, Jesse had left without finishing the campaign. His relationship with Marisa had degenerated so much that he felt
He couldn't be around her or her new friend, who clearly was manipulating Maria, but she couldn't see it. Jesse stated that it was painful to watch what he was doing to her, but it was a lesson she very much needed.
This was the end of their creative journey, and they have not worked together since.
Jesse speaking "Our relationship was extremely tumultuous, and we constantly argued from place to place; however, we produced incredible work, and of course, working like this is never going to be easy. Getting arrested and chased by police, and just the sheer intensity of our shoots, was insane. It put a lot of pressure on it, and Jesse, being intuitive, would sense very close danger at times and need to steer them away from it.
Jesse stated that "In every country we visited, we would continually argue about things that Marisa couldn't pick up on. Like during the Turkey trip, she wanted to be naked on the huge Galata bridge that crosses the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. She could not sense what was going to happen. But I could, and It would cause a lot of arguments, and you know it wasn't easy".
Jesse on Marisa
Unravelling the Purin Festival
In the early days of 2019, the dynamic duo rendezvoused in Williamsburg, New York, with the intention of capturing Marisa's essence during the Jewish Purin Festival. However, fate had other plans, and the shoot took an unexpected turn. Within a few days, Jesse found himself embroiled in difficulties with both Marisa and a new acquaintance of hers. This acquaintance had managed to sell one of Jesse's iconic photographs of Marisa walking boldly, completely naked, carrying a life-size crucifix across a pedestrian zone in front of the Vatican. Shockingly, the photograph fetched a staggering fifty thousand euros from a collector in New York, yet the duo received no compensation. The betrayal sowed seeds of immense stress between Jesse and Marisa, leading to a complete breakdown in their relationship. The once-anticipated photos from this trip never saw the light of day, buried for both personal and legal reasons. This heartbreaking experience marked the end of their collaborative journey.
Jesse opens up about the tumultuous partnership with Marisa, revealing that many of their challenges stemmed from ego clashes and debates over whose ideas held more significance. The couple, both possessing strong personalities and boundless creativity, constantly found themselves at odds. Despite the friction, Jesse acknowledges that Marisa's influence helped him grow as a photographer. With her wealth of experience and exposure to the best in the industry, she pushed Jesse to elevate his craft, leaving him no choice but to rise to the occasion. Their impromptu shoots, sometimes under watchful eyes in foreign territories, intensified the pressure, leading to continuous arguments. Despite the difficulties, Jesse recognized the profound importance of their work and the symbolism it carried. As humanity's consciousness began to awaken, their creations took on a heightened significance. Looking back, the magnitude and power of their art became clear; their work, unmatched and irreplaceable, etched its mark on history.
The Legacy: Controversy and Beauty United
Their indelible legacy will forever be etched in the annals of art history—provocative, boundary-pushing, and raw. Their journey, though fraught with struggles, produced some of the most captivating and controversial pieces ever witnessed. As the world evolves, their work becomes even more potent, standing as a timeless testament to human expression and courage. The provocative visions of Jesse Walker and Marisa Papen will forever remain unparalleled, a testament to the depth of human emotion and the power of artistic rebellion. Despite the bittersweet ending, their contribution to the world of art remains priceless, destined to ignite the flames of inspiration for generations to come.