Setting Sail

Photographer Thomas AgatzMarisa Papen

Marisa Papen is an artistic outlaw. The controversial Belgian model has been imprisoned after going nude at the Karnak Temple in Egypt and arrested after being photographed sitting nude on a pile of bibles in St Peter’s Square. She’s been chased out of an ultra-conservative Jewish neighbourhood in New York for causing a stir after walking the streets naked. She’s stripped off at multiple sacred sites around the world, including posing nude at the Wailing Wall in Israel, lifting her burka to reveal her genitals at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque and walking around the Vatican naked while holding a cross and imitating

Christ. Earlier this year she even released a doll of her as the naked Virgin Mary holding a black baby Jesus.

Unphased by the haters who “call me an attention seeker”, Marisa emphasises that her message is about creating change and less about being popular on Instagram.

“When you do something out of the ordinary, people are always going to be critical,” she says. “I don’t let fear control my emotions.”

“If being popular was my goal, I don’t think it would be such a wise decision to upset two-thirds of the world.”

Marisa is also inspired to create images that celebrate unapologetic nudity because she doesn’t think the female body is anything to be ashamed of. “Being sexual is part of our nature, but there is more to nudity than just using this to express sensuality or sexuality,” Papen says.

“I learn so much from being nude. It has the power to bring us back to the core of our existence. If you allow yourself to be comfortable with the body you’re in, then you’re able to shed everything. You expose your skin to all the elements. You go back to basics. You feel like a wild animal.”

“We started this life by wearing clothes and I’m not against evolution… but who says the evolution we’ve been through is the right evolution?”

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