The day after Ryan and I created these images together he did an interview with ARC. When this came out Ryan texted me and told me I should have a read if I had the time. I started straight away. His words made me smile. They even transferred me. I was back there, in that room, on that bed...
At first I was going to write down some of my own reflections, or a poem, or something else. But I wanna share his words here with you instead. So here they are...
IS THERE AN IMAGE THAT YOU ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN RECENTLY AND WOULD LIKE TO TELL THE STORY? It would be the shoot with Marisa yesterday for sure. She has an Instagram vibe that isn’t very similar to my own work but I just have this radar for people who I think are putting out something personal, who are working on something more than attention and money or reasons that I can see, that something inside them is driving them to be who they are putting out. I had that vibe from her without even talking, just from the internet, and we finally met up. I knew it was coming. I didn’t know how but I just knew. We shot really beautiful stuff and over dinner it just happened. We both got to share some really personal things that had just happened. It’s not my place to share any of her stuff but it just led to that People learn tips and tricks for taking emotional photos, but the incredible emotional art was there just being one foot away from each other. She said ‘You want to capture this, don’t you?’ and I answered ‘I do.’ She said ‘It’s fine, you can shoot anything.’ I didn’t take many photos of the most meaningful part of the whole shoot. I think I only took eight. Over an hour and a half it was very much as though the thing was really happening. We had that experience together and it was extremely relevant and honest and intimate. We were almost sharing the same physical space.
AND THESE WERE THE IMAGES THAT YOU MENTIONED BEFORE? Yes, it was all about expression and the energy of what was happening. We were both laying down together on our sides, facing each other.
GOING BACK TO THE PROCESS BEHIND THIS, IS THE CAMERA VERY CLOSE TO YOU THEN, AS THOUGH YOU WERE WEARING GLASSES OR..? It was right to my side. I just had it right next to me and it was a great balance. There was an hour and a half of beautiful moments. I just photographed the few times when I knew it was right. I didn’t change a single thing. I focused very quickly and snapped it and put the camera immediately behind my back until the next time.
There’s no signs on this road I chose to travel. A path without directions. A path without dead-ends. Many ways to turn, many miles ahead. Over and over new land reveals itself. I touch it and it touches me. Vividly.
Intrigued by this endless road, I’ll continue to wonder. Through the eyes of a child, holding a map for the very first time.
So, Today I would like to share some personal thoughts with you. It’s not often I share my opinion, because I believe everyone is entitled to their own. In this case I feel different about that. Not only because it’s a controversial subject, but I wanted to let you guys know where I stand on this matter. I always said that I would never, ever wanted to express myself under the image of ‘Playmate’. Personally I can’t stand the fact that women are being objectified. Or even worse... That some women put themselves in that position. We are not toys that aim to please. On the contrary… I believe we, as women are capable of creating extraordinary things: we bring life to this world, literally! That in its own way is already the purest form of art. And then we haven’t even been talking about the gracious intoxicating form of our bodies. The smooth dynamics of a female body has been an inspiration for artists thoughout history of mankind. How is it possible we as women aren’t aware of this supernatural power we possess? How is it possible that women, no matter what culture or age, have been property of… Men…? I mean, even here in Belgium, it wasn’t possible for a woman to have an independent bank account up until 1978… Lots to say about this but it’s not 1978 anymore.
So, this is my story…
Ever since I’ve been doing what I’m doing, freely expressing myself in artistic nudity, a bunch of ‘naked/erotic’ magazines reached out to me to be featured. I always declined because of their superficial, unilateral vision. For me being sexy isn’t about wearing red lipstick and a pushup bra. It’s about being your true, natural self… And not to be afraid to show this.
I never thought my story in their context would be a match. In this case, Playboy NL offered me total freedom of content when they heard I went to Thailand. For me this was an opportunity to show a different angle on nudity to a broad public.
Jasper and I shot these images during our 3-week jungle travel. Whenever we had some time in between and we were inspired by our surroundings, we just goofed off with the camera. Instinctive wandering, nothing planned out… And that exactly reflects my opinion of attraction, spontaneity, excitement, intimacy… It’s not something you play, it’s something you are.
Island Mornings. To wake up here is not a challenge, not a struggle to get out of bed. Effortless I got pulled up, feeling light as a feather. Every sound, every smell goes in crescendo. Sensations swindle my rationality. I don't overthink, I feel. I don't plan, I experience.
Every morning, I am caught by this natural Wave. Part of that everlasting ritual, I am floating, overtaken by sound and aroma, airdriven like a kyte.
You can find me there every morning, blanket draped around my shoulders like a cape, absorbing every element. Fearless as a child.
How can you desire for someone else, if you can't comprehend the need for loving yourself? In my opinion it is impossible without an intimate relationship between spirit and body. Defining yourself within your body means finding balance within sexuality as well... To explore your boundaries as a human being, it also embraces the search for your wildest fantasies. Both mentally and physically, we crave to love. Nothing to be afraid, nothing to feel ashamed.
Dare to discover your own complexity. Love starts with .. You. Every aspect of .. You.
Breaking Dawn. As the birds fly off on a morning hunting expedition, I’m slowly being pulled out of my blissful sleep.
A hypnosis by the natural elements of this local Thai village fuels my senses. Brings me to the point of ’no turning back’ to the sleeping world. Instead I’m awakening in this dazzling dreamworld, almost dancing every step of the way. Empowered by the humming energy of the Jungle landscape in front of me. I come alive.
Just a perfect morning...
In this production, Damian Karsznia and I have made it our goal to give you a glimpse of that perfect morning, and capture that experience as authentic as possible.
Sometimes the world becomes a grey mass, incomprehensibly plain, like the walls are closing in on me. I’m diving without oxigen, slowly sufficating. as if a giant jungle snake outbests me with every breath I take. I need to let this go, close myself off into my sanctuary.
Finding your colors back, it is not always an easy given. Selfreflection and vivid imagination are part of my ritual. They purify the soul of the contradiction between black and white. Where first divided in clear camps, light and dark. Now unfolded into limitless color combinations
And so the world becomes your final canvas, ready to be painted into an everchanging Masterpiece.
Who am I? A product of evolution, or a predestined creation The Lead in a bigger story, or just an insignificant pawn A biological package drifting in a chaotic existence or a subject choosing to understand, feel and love your World…
I’m aware of my core-instincts Accepted the animal that lives inside. I Nurture it, feed it, balance and love it.
My mother, I call her, the Earth itself. She is everywhere, within everything that's surrounding us. The Harmony between every natural Element.
I am drawn to you, Ocean, watch over me. Carry me on when I need comfort. Molded by your tides, guide me into your blissful Flow.
And you, Land, make me strongwilled and timeless. Sculpture my mind and body into your shaped entity. Water and Rock, salt and sand forever intertwined, A symfony of elements. Dance with me as lovers would, Kiss me as lovers should. I am Yours.
Last month, actually when I just arrived back in LA after my Palm Springs adventure, I met up with Kesler Tran. Because we are both living on the other sides of LA, we gathered at a parking lot, somewhere in Canoga Park. I figured after having surrendered the Palm Springs-heat, my body was immune now for 100+ degree temperatures. It seemed I was 100% wrong there. It was so crazy hot that when I tried standing up when Kesler arrived, the heat even made me dizzy. We said ‘Hi’ real quick and then both straight decided to run into a fried chicken place. To get some chicken but even more to get some airco. After our winner winner chicken diner (lunch actually) and a short chat, we decided to take a 3-hour drive into the desert. Kesler told me about some black-reddish grind that looked absolutely insane just before the sun would go down. He did not exaggerate at all. It was so beautiful that I even didn’t care to roll around in it. And I’m glad I did. I was superstoked when Kesler showed me the pictures afterwards. Hope you like them as much as I do!
Palm Springs… I did 3 well-focused attempts to write down my thoughts/feelings about these series... But I had to come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the exact right words to even describe 10% of this whole Palm Springs Sensation... You got me there Palm Springs… Big time! Really! So here’s what I’m doing, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking. And I believe they say quite enough… Enjoy!
I must admit, I’ve always been a storm chaser. The addiction for that magnetic pull of electricity, air bursting with oxygen. Suddenly breathing seems so different. I can feel my lungs screaming for more. Was I breathing all this time? I must have been.
We inhale, we exhale. We live. At least we think we do. I believe we’re just wined up, lick clocks... By society, and even more important, by ourselves.
Storms unwind me. They offer me clarity.
I need my storms.
That’s why, when no storm is around, I create my own dust devil. I make the wind go clockwise for a while, just till I hear myself breathing again. Till I feel enlightened...
"Men come for Mars, women come from Venus" In literature, this is just one in a million verses that describe a fundamental gender-distincition.
Guys love football, Girls love ballet and play with dolls. Again one in a billion assumptions about basically dividing our society in a male and female camp. Everybody knows them, so they must be true, right? Follow the rules, never question them...
An artificial lie if you ask me.
Even our clothes we're supposed to use to express ourselves, sometimes feel to me as if they were fabric masks, rather to shut off your personality than enforce it. Strip them off and tear them apart, and what do you get? Human bodies, the single greatest invention of all time. Nowhere to hide, nothing to hide from.Only bodies, no male our female discrimination.
I love my body, I love myself.I figured you can only start to love another if you can look yourself in the mirror every day, and truly see and understand the person that's looking right back. With your own flaws and skills, just as anyone else, and to use those things the create Beauty. Not only for yourself, but for and inspired by your loved ones.
And that’s what it’s all about right? Giving and spreading love everywhere you can. Life is to short not to.
Just a month ago, Eric called me up to do a shoot in Brussels. The city was melting due to a heatwave that was heading over Belgium. I don't know what it was but when I arrived I immediately felt a boiling atmosphere that got a hold of the people.Everybody felt sunny and hypnotized by the rythem of the summer..
When I arrived at Erics shooting location, we all felt this amazing vibe and started to shoot for 4hours in a row, without even looking at the clock. Hope you guys like the results, we know we had a lot of fun making them.
Racing heartbeats, price in sight, primal intuition I no longer need to hide. Once civilized and caged, a prisoner of the Hive. Beaten the buzzing mainstream, I finally come alive. Emancipated from consumption-chains. Natures call is all that remains. One way ticket into the Wild.
Running relentless through the woods I am not made to be trained, I am not made to be contained. Untamed I come to terms, with my vital necessity for ferocity.
Go on, little tigress, now you be free. Climb on scorched rocks, sleep on broken trees.
Time to roll around in the green fields. Unleash yourself, you will never yield.
Last gaze upon the fading city-lights Never to return, time to face the night. Star-guided, I will strive and stray, to be reborn again within every day.
One step closer to my Creator,
one step closer to the Sun. Leave me levitated in uncharted territory. For it is instinct I long for, not human glory.
Friday at noon, dark clouds were packing together, as I entered the loft Gregory had fixed for this shoot.
I remember there was a lot of turmoil going on because I had so many things to take care of. But as soon as I entered the loft, everything that was buzzing in my head faded away instantly. High and dry in Antwerp, it came to me natural that I didn’t want to act, I didn’t want to prentend. I just wanted to live in that eagle nest and just wander around in every chamber as if it were to be my own. My micro-kosmos, where I could roll around on the bed like a happy little cub, or watch the raindrops drip off the window. Loose myself in nostalgic thoughts and dance through the kitchen. Leave all masks behind and be the naked truth, without holding back. I can be all.
Gregory was my witness, he captured my Loft-tales so pure. As a resourceful spider he stayed in the background leaving me to myself and all my faces.
People tend to structure things: Their households, jobs, financial concerns, relationships... all are depending on well defined blueprints. Lifes need to be planned in order to be lived. The concept of not having a fixed grabhold, where the mind can clamp on to when needed, scares the living shit out of our beloved society. You need to, you're ought to, you have to insure.. or there will be consequences. We are conditioned by our structure habit, not the other way around. Structure-freaks formed by self-induced fear of the unknown By forcing ourselves to play within the chalked pitch-lines, we give ourselves the illusion of being in control. Chains designed to transform our hopes and dreams into 'realistic perspectives. Stepping out of that prison takes guts, the big blur of 'not knowing'. An uncharted landscape where 'what if' doesn't exist. Where we plant seeds in unknown soil, not knowing if something will happen, or what exactly will grow. It's there where we can observe elements of an underlying baseline, the concept of Natures beauty and its flawless design without the need of artificial rules. Structure doesn't save, structure narrows. To flow or not to flow, that’s the question
So when I called Mike up to do a story for PointSevenMach, it wasn't something we had to plan in, but rather we just did. Good vibe, splendid location and time.
A Sunday afternoon without taboos, without obligations, without structure.
A few weeks ago I finally found some time to make my way to Tisja Damen in Amsterdam. About time it was...
Somewhere in the beginning of this year a common friend told me to check out Tisja’s designs. I was in full preparations for ‘Magical Morocco’ back then and I was still searching for some brands to take with me on my trip. ‘You’ll dig it’ he told me. And that’s least you can say, it was love at first sight. I wrote Tisja an email to explain my concept and since then we’ve been writing stories together. So obviously we were both thrilled to finally meet in real life. As my intuition told me we got along straight away. It was a super relax Sunday with loads of coffee, chocolate and laughs… And next to all the coziness, Franggy, Tisja’s best friend took some pictures as well. Here’s the results of that one splendid Sunday...
The coastline salutes me as I finally made it to the top of the hill. Although you will never hear me admit it, I must be getting old now. Old... just a silly number game, invented for the sheep. Spirit is all that matters, and even on my 80th birthday, I feel as bright and determined as in my early days. It seemed like it was only yesterday I blew out my twentieth birthday candle
Where did I cross over so far to the other side? I can’t recall at all. It doesn’t matter now, it never did in the past. So what did matter all that time? My path has always been one unusual wild river, from the Alps’ mountain source until the welcoming sea. I am almost at the finish, still a few turns to go. An unknown number of crossroads ahead.
La Vita di Castro e Bella, it had always been smiling to me in a certain way. The scent of La Primavera on a beautiful April evening smelled so familiar. Home, it’s good to be back. Even after 50 years, I still call you home, Castro As I take one step closer towards the edge of my favorite cliff, I felt something wet dripping on my face. Tears are balancing on my blushing round cheeks, folded in this enchanting smile of relief. Memories took hold of my whole appearance.
I made it back home. Just as I promised on that day, the day I chose air above suffocation, the day I lost Love and found Life.
I never get emotional, I am Marisa. I keep on going, no matter the odds or stakes. So, what is this then, why now?
I gambled and I won. I chose and I unfolded I got up and walked away. But did I ever really leave?
I chuckled and thought about what my nonna once told me in my darkest hour:
“Bambina, a strada di Casa non se la perdo domani” Turns out she had been right all the time
Old Vincenzo, age 88 – Castro, 30th of April 2075
Not a day has passed this last 50 years that I haven't thought about that sunny afternoon when I saw her for the first time on the market square, that sunny First of May 2015. Labour Day outmatched every other Holiday in this poor and rural region and was without a doubt the highlight of the small and simple sea village called Castro. Every villager dressed in their best outfit, little children were playing on the streets, local squares and churches decorated over-the-top, the best food stalls, fairs and market stalls, local bands played the traditional music of the South, dancing young folks courting each other under a warm Primavera-sun… Beautiful Italian traditions, imprinted from the earliest age.
I arrived a few months before in town from Palermo to take over the restaurant from my uncle, a famous chef who was about to retire and who wanted to entrust the secret recipes of La Familia on to the next generation. An honour and a privilege I dreamed my whole life of being part of the chef-tradition in my family. Even on Labour day we had a food stand on the church square.
I was just preparing the evening shift as I felt a presence taking over the atmosphere. I looked up and there she was strolling through the main street. You should've seen her in that white dress, the most beautiful creature I ever saw. Moulded perfection, as if God himself opened the gates of heaven and put his masterpiece on earth. Flawless in all aspects, gracefully enchanting the whole marketplace in seconds. The way she smiled to everyone and vividly took part in dancing with the children made are almost glow like an Angel. When she saw the village elders, who sat in a line in the shadow she waved cheerfully, hopped over to them and sat down in the middle of their 'city council' for an enthusiastic talk. I was drawn to here immediately, resisting was not an option. I was defenseless against this natural force, she pierced through my reservations as a knife through butter. Her bronzed skin made me shiver, her incredible smile could even put a king to his knees, but her dynamic energy surrounded every person like the sun itself.
Instant intoxicated, I realized too late I was looking for ages at her like a schoolboy struck by lightning. I just wasn't able to tear my eyes away from her. While the old men were fighting as young dogs for her attention, she suddenly turned around, looked me straight in the eye, without blinking even once. I had the feeling she was able to scan my soul in a couple of seconds. It was as if she had been aware of my hypnotized dumb gaze all the time. She caught me red-handed. I never got caught... With no warning whatsoever, she swiftly got up and walked towards my food stand. Not realizing what was happening my reaction was turtle-like. I turned around fast and stumbled around with some pans but … "Shouldn't you look at your food instead of me, Siciliano? I wouldn't want burned pasta tonight." I turned around very slowly, leaned over and just looked at her dark playful eyes filled with magic. For four seconds, time stopped, the music faded and people didn't exist. For four seconds, she and she alone was my Universe. Words were expendable, even inconvenient. It took me 4 seconds and no words to truly know her, to connect with her. Yes… to Love her.
"I am going for my daily sea swim, but I see you tonight. Don't disappoint me, Capo Siciliano" I am Marisa, but the elders call me 'Bambina'. So choose wisely. And smoothly like a Tigress, she took off to her favorite bay.
After my best, most Inspired meal and four dates, we knew we were madly in Love.
Marisa e Vicenzo. La 'Bambina' e Il Capo Siciliano.
We became a myth in Castro, forged for each other. Unparalleled Passion.
Those 3 years were the highlight of my life. Never did I see her again after she left. The Love of my life, still after all those years.
Marisa, Castro, age 23 – May 2018
Vincenzo is looking up just for a second, as I enter ' La Primavera' at primetime. His gaze crosses mine, reflecting some sort of restless admiration, before turning his head away fully focused on la Primi Piatti that is about to be served to the buzzing crowd of hungry guests. I watch him while he practices his restraint to give in to his unprecedented passion for details when it comes down to his restaurant. It is literally the extension of his heart, the pumping centre of his world, his alter ego. It drives him, consumes him even from time to time. That and.. well, me of course. Vincenzo always was a quite young man, introvert one might say. Even when he was a kid, he kept to him self but showed determination and heart like no one else.
Today we were 3 years together. And it is been a never ending rollercoaster.
There was a time that we were unbreakable, scorched together like inflamed matchsticks. Shared everything life had to offer: a small apartment, our bodies, our hopes, dreams, a shared unquenchable love for food.
We had it all, at least it seemed that way. He was my Rock, and I his Muse.
But these days the pixie dust seem to ran out and cracks were starting to show. What it was that floated us away from our original course, I still can't put my finger on. It must 've been a combination of ambition and neglect towards each other, spiced up with a rally of jealous incidents and torched with the inability to compromise. I called it ‘Macho overprotective’, he called it ‘the Italian Way’ Vincenzo's life was in Castro and would always be in Castro. But as I unfolded my life, I knew I wanted more out of it. So much of the world I hadn't seen, so many experiences I was drawn to naturally. He called me an eternal dreamer and said I had to be reminded more often what the values were of stability and tradition. "With dreams only you can't buy anything", he would say.
Something was bound to happen, it was written in the stars.
I tried to hold on, I fought the urge and supported him in his goals, I really did. But it started to drain me, the balance was gone. A natural instinct drove me always back to the same crossroad of conflicted interests.
Today we were 3 years together. But today it would end. I would break it, I would cut us loose. I would kill love and drift off. He only doesn’t know it yet. He doesn’t know that this would be the last time he would see me. He doesn’t know my bags were standing outside and my bus would leave this evening. I would go to my grandmother, Nonna, and I would figure things out.
Watching him one last hour, saying goodbye to him, to Castro and the past. One day I would return. One day far from now.
Ciao Amore, I have to go.
Marisa, age 23 – May, Castro-Cinque Terre
Once out of the restaurant, everything was a blur. It was raining unstoppably as I was about to leave Castro. As I was walking towards the bus station, everything came the reality of leaving without looking back came crashing down on me. Tears were mixing with raindrops on my face and I threw my bags on the ground and looked at the sky.
Where would I go now, what would I do with my life and did I make a mistake to leave Vincenzo and my life as abrupt. The sky was as dark and stormy as my life seemed now. Empty, alone without shelter. But as if a lightning bolt triggered something in my body, I felt a sensation of warm energy and determination manifesting itself. Like the first draw of fresh breath after a long dive in the lagoon.
Yes, I was alone and undoubtedly heartbroken. But at the same time I came back alive. I was in control again, back in my own drivers seat. Then and there, I made a pact with myself to never hand over the steering wheel again. Freedom was mine for the taking. And I promised myself to live up to my own dreams, whatever they might be and get the fullest out of every day. I would keep on going, no matter what challenge I would have to overcome Trust my natural instinct and never doubt my resilience. This would not break me, this will open me up.
So enough tears and on to the bus station, Bambina is no more.
A call at the payphone later, Nonna said she would be waiting and I was welcome. “Everything will be fine, you’ll find your way, Bambina.” There was my bus. Final call. I gazed on the beautiful bay that was my home… and hopped on the bus.
The 1000km drive through the Italian countryside to my grandmother gave me time to reflect and look ahead. Nonna lived in a tiny mountain village up North near the Cinque Terre. A magical place in the heart of Italy’s Green mountains. Nature was so beautiful and balanced over there, you could hardly hear the distracting noises of civilization. An ideal place to get back on my feet and get my sheep in a row.
The bus drive cross-country was something I had never done before. I never saw so much of Italy before due to the secondary state roads, because Vincenzo hated those ‘slow time-consuming ‘strada statale’. But to me, it was a dazzling distraction that was most welcome along the way.
After 17hours crisscrossing through the country, I finally arrived at the village Nonna was waiting at the bus stop and started the wave joyful when she saw me. “Madre Madonna, que bellissima, you stay as long as you like” she said, when she hugged me and kissed me all over my face. She herself was as beautiful as ever, like if time barely had any effect on her appearance. Proud, strong-willed and independent because she lived on her own for 3 decades already. At her 78, she was still fill of life force and energy. She welcomed me in her small but wonderful authentic house on the mountainside. I felt home instantly. Nonna started to heat up an amazing meal (like only she could prepare), while I took a bath and got settled in my mother’s old room she prepared for me. I opened the window and looked over the valley. The Mountain View was simply mesmerizing, brought the emotions back.
But I was happy at the same time, some suffocating pressure fell of my shoulders. ‘I am going to be alright”, I whispered to myself. That night I slept better than ever before.
The next month I lived with Nonna, in balance with Nature and with myself. We took time for long walks, through the fields surrounding the mountain hill. Nonna told me time after time she believed in me, and this was a big challenge to overcome, but that I was the strongest spirit she knew. It took time to overthink my options during endless breakfasts or even just lying on her couch or garden. I revitalised completely, and got some fresh perspective what I wanted to do with my life Through an old friend, I came in contact with a fashion agency in Milano where I could do an internship and work as model as well. I never considered the option before, but I felt more confident and ready to bring something new on the table, where natural balance and a pure lifestyle would stand central. Something I always tried to achieve in everything, although I got distracted by Love and it challenges, it was pure instinct that brought us together and tore us back apart. But it made me believe in that natural balance even more. I would bring this to world, wherever I would be or end up. And on a beautiful morning, my plan was ready. I saw the twinkling eyes of my grandmother. “You show the world what you’ve got, Bambina, I believe you will” A list big hug and kiss, and I was heading for the city. Andiamo!
Big Citylights, la Vita di Milano! Once there, I looked around with big but confident eyes
So much is going on, people fly by like bees in a hive that is a quadruple times to small. All humming to get where they have to be, the artificial lights are welcoming but scare me a bit at the same time. But I came back so far not to be scared. I wanted freedom, I wanted more. Well, now I've got it and I'm not giving it away again. Besides, I have a mission now and I won’t back down.
The world expanded drastically, but it is still not mine. I want my balanced pure world.
Marisa,age 28 – Milano
Morningwalks at the harbor with my beautiful Vino are my best way to start off a busy day. It clears my head and gives me time to overthink my time-table and the decisions of the day. Every time I see the grin on Vino’s gigantic head when we go out in the morning, my heart melts. A huge Dog on the outside but a sweet baby all the way, and truly a mascotte of the company.
A quick shower and some muesli further, I’m heading to our main-office in the center of Milano. One quick look in the elevator mirror , and ready to rock it today. This office is my territory, but the atmosphere breaths our vision, my beliefs to push through as I promised to myself
Sipping from my ‘Cafe’ As i’m waiting for a client, I suddenly notice a middle aged man who’s sitting on the stairs of te building across the streets. I know this man... It was Vincenzo’s old uncle from the restaurant, resting and enjoying the sun. He didn’t notice me, so I got up, crossed the street and set down on the same stairs. He still didn’t see me, but just hummed an old song from Castro.
I sat down on the cornerstep and just listened. An overload of faded memories flew through my head: Childhood, Nature, My blue lagoon, the elders, the sun of Puglia and... my Love for Vincenzo. Emotions too hard to describe bundled within me, just because of a simple hummingtune. I chuckled a bit with my own thoughts:“Powerwoman brought down by a southern hummingsong” A warm burning emotion took the upperhand. The first time in my life. I came a long way, I had to sacrifice all that I knew and loved to get where I am today.
I said nothing to Vincenzo’s uncle, I just kept on listening for several minutes. As quite as possible, I got up and walked back to the office and planned to do something I had never done so far in 5 years. “Cancel the rest of my appointments today, Francesca, I’m going out of the office today” I said to my assistant who couldn’t believe what she was hearing, but just laughed and nodded. I left our gates, quite dashing and ... with a satisfied, thankful smile.
“I wonder if they have a good Sicilian restaurant in Milano” I thought as I walked towards the sunlight, brighter than ever.
Next week I’m turning 23. Already 3 years in my twenties… I will never wine about 'getting old' whatsoever and it might sound silly but these last years I feel like mountains have shifted. Still, nothing is very clear in my life but I’m getting there, I guess. At least I can see the blueprint vaguely.
When I was 16, I had it all figured out and I assumed myself to be a full-grown woman. That idea alone puts a smile on my face right now. But on the other hand, it sort of makes sense as well. I got caught by love and I’m talking about the real mambo jambo. Not some artificial fling. The kind of blissful psychosis where everything just makes sense. It even made me loose my grip over my own actions sometimes. Intense, passionate but at the same time a destructive inferno. Somewhere along the way, we lost our core. Something that flourished so beautifully just faded. Until it was non-existing. Hardest thing I ever had to do so far. Letting go and breaking out. That was a serious game changer. First time in my life I felt totally alone. I was on my own. What was my plan again? That was the beginning of my quest. My big quest for identity.
I must admit, it was a rocky road from time to time, that you can say. At least. Maybe I’m not proud of every decision I made but I convince myself, no, actually I truly believe, that they were all necessary steps to find where I was looking for...
I was fed up with thinking, I wanted to do. So I started experimenting with all kinds of occupations. That brought me back to something I have always loved doing but that I had to put on the sideline for several years (due to all kind of circumstances): expressing myself in front of a camera. Looking back at my childhood pictures I always had the urge to act out when a camera was around. Maybe I’ll share some of the highlights with you later on :). Not totally planned out, things started to push me back in this direction. It has never been my goal to become a ‘model’. I love to satellite different emotions as clear as possible and to do it in my own way. But the best part of it all is creating a symbiotic bound with people sharing this same passion.
These series were shot in Amsterdam by the great Simon Cornils. In my opinion I think he did a terrific job capturing me in a way I recognize myself. It’s so easy to put on a mask and to be somebody else, as well in life as in front of a camera. The hardest part is opening up. For the moment that’s my goal. Nothing more, nothing less.
In our first story 'Magical Morocco' we left the continent to give you a sneakpeak of what we're trying to accomplish. What you've already seen, is actually a fragment of our concept 'Mush'. Through producing an example in a breathtaking atmosphere, we thought it’d be the best way of showing you what we're trying to achieve with the Mush-label. With each story we'll reveal another piece until the puzzle is complete.
That being said, I think it's time to brief you on our founding partner, our inspiration for the label and truly the soul of the family.
Without further introduction, MEET MUSH!!
She is Marisa's cat, 4 years old and with her ever since. Marisa brought her up as if she were her own baby, teaching her to be a proper Lady. Mush is by far the smartest, most distinguished animal I've ever seen. With a mind of her own. Enchanting in every movement. Majestic almost. She brings natural balance everywhere her paws take her.`
Because Marisa took it upon her to raise her so closely, they've forged an unique connection. Like a mother with her child. I myself had the privilege of witnessing this rare, almost unreal connection. Strongest bound I’ve ever seen between human and animal. And there is this truly remarkable thing about it: Mush picked up all kinds of human features. Both in her expression as in her behavior. But at the same time, Marisa as well implemented pieces of Mushes natural 'instinctive' grace just by living so close with her. You can see it in her pictures, in her movement and exceptional talent of expressing. Their characters melted symbiotically into eachother and formed 'something' new. Something else. Something better. Something beautiful. Something... Mush.
Beauty created in the shells of pure, bold perfection, flawless like an Icemountain. Drawn to it, as if you want to get hit with that same sledgehammer of pureness over and over again.
But as sudden as the perfect storm can grab the sea by its throat and turn it into a brewy boiling whirlpool, She let clouds evaporate instantly, as if Her mood controls the weather itself. As if She tamed the sun herself on her leash.
It is those simple things where She manifests herself differently in a fundamental way. The Natural grace that literally drips off her when she sees Mush and her motherinstinct kicks in.
In a way she lives more than other creatures on the rythem of her own heartbeat. One beat at a time, aware of all surroundings. Present in the now. Another form of life.
So what did we do? We took Mush back to her roots, back to the source, Le Massif de la Chartreuse (Grenoble). She drove with us in the car for one thousand kilometers and she did it in style. From the first minute you could tell she felt home in this incredible nature. With these series we want to give you a glimpse of our short but intense stay. Whether it was the endurance of running up a hill in the early morning, or the playful spectrum of exploring this wonderful city… We tried to capture those moments that express the Mush-values as close as possible. To top it off, we took her with us on a hike to the Mountain peak.
Now we've introduced ourselves properly, this adventure is about to begin with a bang!
Hope you enjoy the images as much as we enjoyed being high above the sky!
Last month I received an impulsive message from Wouter, if I had some time to mash up a little shoot. Since we had been meaning to collaborate for a long long time, I accepted his invite instantly. He told me he had this supercool location: A caravan somewhere in the middle of the city, hiding in a plain site (got me curious of course).
Sun was out, the stage was set and our mood was superb. Time flew by and before we knew, it was already a wrap.
Little did we know we would both be so pleased with the results. Today it even got picked up by one of my personal favorite magazines; C-heads Magazine. So you can imagine I'm pretty thrilled to show you guys our full series. To read it on C-heads: CLICK HERE - "To keep it fresh, you need to get away from what you're used to do. So feeling Spring and seeing flowers sprouting everywhere, I felt the time was right to invite Marisa on a beautiful Thursday afternoon and get away from shooting boys on boards." - Wouter Struyf, photographer
As you guys might have noticed, last month I went on a trip to Morocco. For 10 days I was traveling through the country with my best friend and partner-in-crime, Piet. Both of us knew before setting foot on the plane that if you put us 2 together there could happen quiet a lot. And a lot is a bold understatement. Everything was planned out very smoothly (my job) but only after 5 minutes on Moroccan soil, every ounce of planning was flushed down the drain. You can compare it with a Tajine actually: stacked-steamed-spiced, you never know what's underneath the hood... But in the end that certain combination bangs, no matter what.
So, here's my story. First official and independent Mush-production. Hope you all get carried away, just as we did.