Collab with MrGeometric Limited Edition Canvas Print
37cm x 25cm // Limited Edition of 25 // $97 56cm x 37cm // Limited Edition of 15 // $197 74cm x 49cm // Limited Edition of 8 // $347 111cm x 74cm // Limited Edition of 2 // $697
This piece was created by MrGeometric in collaboration with Marisa Papen. The "in my bubble." piece is a limited edition production, only 50 of these will ever be produced! "in my bubble" is printed on 300gsm woven polyster fabric canvas with eco-friendly ink, wrapped around a wooden frame. This piece includes hardware to hang on a wall.
Hi Marisa & Jesse, thanks in advance for your cooperation and the great pictures you made, I absolutely love them. Jesse:"Hi ***, Thankyou very much & no problem in answering these questions." Marisa: "Hello again:)" I've seen that you've used the shots of Marisa in Egypt and Ethiopia on your ENKI brand website. My apologies if some of the questions might seem a bit straightforward, but I want to have the story behind it completely right and I don't know the exact history. 1) Can you explain what your relation to ENKI is/what your exact role in it is. You started the business yourself? You are only doing the marketing/photography to showcase the eyewear? Jesse: "I’m the owner and creative director of ENKI. I do all visuals for the label, like photography, web & campaign concepts etc. I started ENKI about ten years ago by myself in Australia but now run it out of beautiful Bali. To answer your second question. No, I don’t just do marketing and photography to market ENKI. It’s never been about money or selling sunglasses, but It always has been about creating something amazingly different and showing the world the beautiful and fascinating people I shoot. I feel like I’m more so marketing my subjects and their stories rather than ENKI’s. I didn’t make money for the first eight years of the brand's ten-year history. I funded all of the campaigns myself just because I was so obsessed with creating beautiful photos." 2) What is for you the connection between handcrafted ENKI eyewear and the pictures you make in the photography campaigns? What are you looking for in a model and in a setting/location? Jesse: "If it’s a conceptual ENKI campaign, I’ll go to where I feel naturally drawn, and that’s mostly to the ancient places and cultures of the world. I love to shoot real people who then become the models, whether that’s the Tribes of Africa or the Gondoliers of Italy. To me this is real beauty, nothing is purer. I feel people can be triggered in a very positive way seeing these kinds of people in shoots. " 3) I've seen both pictures in your campaigns which can be described as more traditional (models in swimwear, Venice gondeliers) compared to the nude shots of Marisa. What sets Marisa (and the photos you took of her) apart from the other ones? Jesse: "What sets Marisa apart is her unique look and message to the world of self-empowerment and freedom, it’s something I promote through ENKI as well, and I truly believe this message is what the world needs right now. Fortunately, fate crossed our paths so we can both bring about this message together. She is also the only woman brave enough to stand with me and do these shoots. What sets these shoots apart is they have never been done before and will never probably be never done again, at least in our lifetimes and in a world where everything has been done so much its numbing. I like to think that’s very special." 1. I absolutely love the stunning picture at the mosque as the composition and lights are just perfect – which might be a bit odd as it looks like it took some time posing for the right picture, but I assume of course that given the crowds the picture had to be made in a split second.For Jesse, can you describe more of the challenges as a photographer making this picture and how the moment went? And also in general how working with Marisa is in such a challenging environment? As it's a far cry from quietly taking a nude snap at a beach for a shoot for a magazine or so! Jesse: "If you’ve ever been to the Sophia Hagia, you'll know there’s never a day without 1000’s of people being in there at all times. It was all done very spontaneously. Inside the mosque, we were hidden in plain sight. There is also a serene calmness inside which helped allow everything to unfold the way that is was supposed to. We even went back for a second time the next day because we weren't happy with the first lot of shots. However, I didn’t feel like this was that challenging compared to the rooftop shot overlooking the Mosque ( attached ) For that shot to happen a lot of planning and coordinating went into it. Luckily we have some excellent connections in Istanbul, without these, it most definitely wouldn’t have been possible." Marisa, the picture which you sent me, was it taken during the first shoot or the second at Hagia Sophia? This was the second take. Marisa: "We decided not to use any photos of the first attempt. " 2. Question to both Marisa and Jesse. Marisa, you describe Jesse and yourself as the “modern-day Bonnie and Clyde”. How does it feel to be constantly on guard? To deal with the excitement and possible fears of landing in trouble? Is it something that only gives you energy, or at times is also draining? Marisa: "Of course it’s draining. The focus that goes into these kind of adventures is insane. You give so much of yourself. It’s only when you get back home (read another place) that you realize how much energy it took to go through all the hassle... As for during the trip, all the escalades and struggles give me loads of energy. There’s this mindset of nothing willing to take no for an answer, almost like kids. We push each other a lot. " Jesse: "Actually, we both describe ourselves as Bonny & Clyde. It can be extremely testing mentally, physically and also very much so between us. But It’s always a real adventure with Marisa sort of like a vintage James bond film which makes it a lot of fun too. When we get the shots, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world but like Marisa said you don’t realise at the time because you're on autopilot, It’s not until you leave that you understand what you’ve put yourself through. I remember sitting in the airport at Doha after Egypt and having my first beer in years. It was a very surreal moment reflecting on what had just taken place." 3. Question to both Marisa and Jesse.Perhaps more than in Egypt, Turkey has recently been quite a lot in the news when it comes to jailing (innocent) people just because the government thinks they are a danger to the country. These also include foreign nationals such as a German journalist, an American preacher and German and Turkish Amnesty International workers being jailed for many months without fair trial, on what many say are pumped up charges.Did you have any fears of ending up in a similar situation before the trip? Or did you ever have second thoughts during the trip that this might be a bit too dangerous? Marisa: "I don’t follow the news, and I know Jesse doesn’t do so either. I guess in a way this plays in our advantage. If you do these kind of things, there can not even be 1% of your mind resisting. You have to go full in. No doubt. Sometimes obviously it happens, it happened to me when we were about to go in the mosque the second time but then you have someone by your side (Jesse) who pulls you through. Sometimes it goes the other way around. It’s teamwork. " Jesse: "Personally speaking, I have always had a strange love of fear and I feel comfortable being close to danger, so I like to walk that path when doing these shoots. I also do believe that going in with the right intent will allow us to always be okay. However, some things are just not meant to be. We did travel to an incredible ancient location that’s is very unstable politically, we tried to shoot for days, but we soon realised there was no way we were going to be able to do it. I firmly believe that we weren't supposed to do that shoot because of the real dangers involved. It was tough to pull away and leave, but in the end, we knew we had to. After hearing about what's been happening recently in Turkey, I’m reminded that I feel it wasn’t meant to be." 4. To Marisa, I quote: “At one point the police had come to our hotel in Istanbul interrogating the staffabout our location just a day after we had left.”Was your next destination given away? Did you feel from that moment as being followed/chased down by the authorities, as obviously at that moment they would have had your name? Marisa:"We did feel being chased. We talked to some people to give us access to certain places we wanted to shoot at. It’s always tricky to trust people you have no clue about who they are but it’s the risk we have to take." 5. To Marisa again,I quote: “At a location, we can't disclose we tried to shoot for three days straight. On the third day they had hired extra security. Literally all the peaks of the hills were covered with armed men.”Those security guards/armed officers were hired/dispatched there just because they knew that you and Jesse were in the area? Did any of the people there – including the man that followed you without saying much – say anything in the end why you had to leave? Marisa: "They were already there. The first day we went to the location we checked it out, looked at the options, what time of the day we should go, which angles we would shoot from. etc. Because it was out of the season when we travelled to Turkey there weren’t too many tourists so the second day that we went, they recognized us straight away. I think the authorities knew we were in town since we took a plane there. They wouldn’t move away from us. We never had the chance to realize any of the shots we had in mind. He said multiple times we had to leave or we would get into a lot of trouble, obviously we wouldn’t listen. We had come so far already. So we went back the third day. And indeed that day, as soon as we arrived to the location the guy pointed with his 2 fingers to his eyes and pointed out the other armed men on the peaks of the hills. It was like a movie scene sort off. Jesse took his camera and snapped an image of one of the guys to see if they were carrying guns. They were. Serious ones. After 5/6 hours of persistence we left." 6. To both Marisa and Jesse, you didn't had any problems exiting the country? Do you think you will be able to come back to Turkey after this, and would you be willing to do? (as you also described the hospitality of the people and fantastic sights in the country) Marisa: "Probably not. It’s a shame, but it’s the price we have to pay I guess." Jesse: "I really hope not but it will be interesting seeing how it all plays out that’s for sure." 7. To both Marisa and Jesse, especially many people in urban centres and on the coast in Turkey argue that the country has become more illiberal under Erdogan, with personal freedom being infringed or limited. Did it play a role in choosing Turkey as a country for this adventure? If not, why Turkey? Marisa: "Jesse chose the country of destination. And in particular to shoot at the place we did not shoot in the end (question 5) So after this didn’t work out, we had to get creative and travel to other sites where we could create a possible story." Jesse: "There’s an incredible ancient site in Turkey that I had based the whole campaign concept around. I had spent months and months visualizing it. I had even drawn out all the frames I was going to shoot of Marisa. However, we had no idea how dangerous and politically unstable it was going to be. It was empty when we arrived but heavily secured which added to the frustration of not being able to shoot there. After three days and three attempts we surrendered to the fact that we weren't going to able to do it, I went numb, and instantly went into a massive creative block, luckily Marisa stepped up, pulled us through and created the majority of the frames of the campaign. She’s amazing like that, very talented and hardworking." 8. Marisa, What are your own opinions on the current state of affairs in Turkey when it comes to this issue? Did the local people you met along the way perhaps encouraged you, felt emboldened (as it is easier to try this as a foreigner than as a Turkish citizen given possible repercussions) or did they try to warn you and talk you out of such things given the current state of politics? Marisa: "Especially the people we met in Istanbul seemed super scared of what’s about to come. Frightened even. They were warning us about how serious and rapidly things are changing and that what we were doing could get us into even more trouble then what happened in Egypt. In a way they tried to talk us out of it but on the other hand they were applauding our actions." 9. Marisa, are you afraid of another shit storm so to say for posing like this in a mosque, and offending sensitivities of Muslims? Marisa: "Not afraid at all. The universe has got my back." 10. What would you say to critics who ask why you can't pose nude instead in another place and have to do this in a mosque? Marisa: "Like I said many times before, how can a body, created by God be offensive?" 11. How were the reactions in the weeks/months following your Jerusalem photoshoot? As also there you got quite some angry replies (and encouraging support as well!) after posing on a rooftop in front of the Wailing Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque. That didn't deter you from doing it again? Marisa: "The shoot in Jerusalem was a few months after the Turkey trip. But no, I’m not thinking about stopping just yet ;) The reactions were intense, and it’s normal, it’s a big barrier we have to break. I am aware that it’s going to take more then a few years to change our perception. Probably I won’t even be on this planet anymore before anything is changing in the direction of personal freedom. But with this life that has been given to me, I’m willing to risk everything to help to create this shift this planet desperately needs."
First of all… This is not a scream for attention. This is not provoking to provoke. This is a message for humanity. Praying for Equality. And probably also now for our own safety (Jesse’s and mine)
The whole idea behind these campaigns is to push the boundaries society has built up around us. To break free from everything that is holding us back; our limited belief systems, our religions, our skin colour, etc.
As soon as we come to this Earth, we get pushed onto a path. A path that we might not even want to follow. Depending on where we are born everything is decided for us, before we even get the chance to think for ourselves.
This is all about a message, and the message is all about making people think for themselves through our imagery. We're trying to help people break free of their mental imprisonment by the governments and religions of this planet. We have all become so blinded and dumified that we just accept. We do not question anything anymore. Everything is controlled, manipulated. Follow the rules, follow the books, follow the leader, leader, leader follow the leader… (sorry got a little distracted there)
The word religion derives from the Latin word religio and it is connected to the notion of sacred. Ligare, meaning to re-connect, re-bind, re-tie. More specifically, to re-unite man to Divinity, to re-create a bond with the Divine. ‘Re-eligere’ which means to choose again God, to make a new choice again towards the Divine. Despite the slight differences, the origins of the word religion all indicate a re-connection, a re-bonding with the Divine or a re-turn to God. They also seem to indicate that we are in fact re-turning to something that is already there and simply needs to be re-connected to.
So by elaborating these actions, we are not trying to make fun of God. And we are defenitely not implying there is no God. Because God is you. You are the divine. We need to reconnect with ourselves. With our spirits. We are all one. One entity. Born under the same moon, under the same stars. A body, carrying a heart, carrying a mind. A body so powerful and capable of creating the most beautiful art and on the contrary, creating the most awful wars. Wars between stars…
After being blacklisted from Egypt, the same thing will probably happen for Turkey. But we're only getting warmed up, there's much more to come. A lot of people will probably call us insane by doing these kind of ‘stunts’ but once again, we want people to reconnect the dots. And honestly, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with showing the world what God created... On the contrary...
TURKISH DELIGHT Reunited in Turkey, Ready for another rumble in the jungle... It had been just over a year that Jesse and I split physical paths. We both knew there would be a part 2. We just didn’t know when, where or how exactly… but... it was bound to happen. On the 22nd of March the stars were aligned again and we found ourselves sharing gözlemes in the lively streets of Istanbul. Unlike Egypt, we didn’t have a solid plan this time. No preparation at all but an endless imagination and a pretty strong foundation…
The next morning at breakfast we put all our carts on the table and started planning the shots we wanted to visualize. -Sunbathing on Turkish Flag -Flashing bush in Hagia Sophia -Cappadoccia - hot air balloons -Chilling on roof in front of Mosque -Smoking Shisha -Bosphorus Boat Trip -Carpet Shop … List goes on.
Up next; Buying the Hijab.
This was for sure going to be the trickiest shot of all but we figured it would be best to start of with a big tackle. After asking around for a bit, the Grand Bazaar seemed like the place to be. Fake designer handbags, the most colorful carpets and Hijabs in every direction we looked... We enter a random store. As seasons change and people don’t, Jesse was still retrieving a lot of joy of putting me unexpectedly in the roll of his wife. So he pulled that card once again in the Hijab-shop. Jesse steps up and asks the sales-guy for a fully black burka. The guy asks: ‘for who’? Jesse says: ‘It’s for my wife, right here. We just got married and I want her skin exclusively for me now. Covered up from head to toe.’ A quirky approving smile appeared on the guys face. So I looked at him and smiled shyly, as a freshly married wife that’s about to be deprived from the sunlight would do. He ran into the basement which gave me just enough time to punch Jesse’s arm. A few seconds later the guy brought back a dozen different dresses. I tried on a few. The guy said ‘Güzel, Beautiful, Beautiful’ Jesse said ‘yes, amazing! Exactly what I want’. Seems like that deal was done. It also seemed that my opinion already wasn’t of big value anymore. So we leave the shop, accelerating, headed back to the hotel to prepare and fully accomplish the Mission.
TAKE 1 As we were getting closer to the Sophia, the crowd got thicker too. Even though my masquerade was on point, we got a lot of stares. First I thought it was the rhythm of our way of walking but then I realized where their eyes were really going - A scanning gaze down my brand-new outfit till their eyes would reach my feet - Then their eyes went back up, a few gears higher then on the way down, to give me a stare straight into my eyes. I could see them thinking ‘Girl, what are you doing??! What are you up to…’ ... We should’ve bought new shoes too. But we were so pumped up when we arrived back at the hotel, we just wanted to get into action asap - since I always travel light, the only options I had were my running shoes or my flip-flops. I went for the flip-flops. -Jesse helped me pull the dress to stretch it a little but still a few centimeters of the ground…-
After an humongous waiting line to enter, we got kind of caught off-guard with the uncountable amount of security cameras. They literally have every square centimeter covered. We wander around for a bit and end up finding a good corner on the first floor, still tons of people though. But the light was so incredible there, we decided to scoop it out for a few minutes. Jesse was adjusting the settings while I was just looking around and kind of mentally preparing myself. I removed my flip-flops and put them on the side. 15 minutes of taking tourist-snaps passed by. Conclusion: a moment with no-one around was never going to happen. We decided to wait for a guided group and while the guide was telling his story and everyone was paying full attention, it would be game-time!
A big group was lurking around the corner, approaching us. This was our chance. I could feel my heartbeat in my throat, hear it in my head. Jesse was holding his camera as if he was ready to pull the trigger. He looks with his left eye on the side of his lens and nods. I pull up my dress. 10 frames per second for 5 seconds. I drop my dress. Jesse nods again, turns around and starts walking, I follow. I ask him ‘Do you got it?’ He says ‘Yes, let’s go! Now!’ Without being stopped (surprisingly) we leave the Sophia.
TAKE 2 If there’s a take 1, there’s usually a take 2. After loading in the images that night, we weren’t as excited as we should have been. For some reason we didn’t get it exactly right. In one photo I didn’t like the expression on my face (way too tense) - another one wasn’t completely sharp, etc, etc. There was one we kind of liked but we basically both felt like we could have done better. We kept scrolling through them over and over again, till Jesse concluded: ‘Marisa, we have to go back…’ I was like: ‘No way, we’re not going back, we’re gonna get caught this time, I can feel it.’ He said, ‘Marisa, you have to trust me’. I was like: ‘No way, we gonna end up in jail again, next week I’m leaving for China, we didn’t even finish our Turkey-story, I don’t have time nor energy for jail’ He said: ‘Marisa, we have to go back’ I was like: ‘Ok, we go, whatever, but we’re gonna get caught’ While I was getting dressed I could just sense another Egypte-escapade coming up. But for some reason I did decide to trust upon Jesse’s intuition, so we left the hotel again, waited in line again. Entered the Sophia again… We stroll around for a bit, when we suddenly get hypnotized by the light shining through these giant wooden doors. Of course, these giant wooden doors happen to be right after the entrance, which means, there’s literally hundreds of people passing by every minute. But (again) whatever… Jesse puts himself in the right position, I take off my flip-flops, walk over to ‘the gate of light’, take a strong stand, lift up my Burka. Jesse checks on his screen. We repeat the same action several times till we feel like we are running out of luck. We walk out. We sit ourselves down in the shade on a bench right outside the mosque, scroll through them... I look up from the screen and glance at Jesse’s face, it was like a mirrored expression. We stand up to leave the shade and feel the sun caressing our smiling faces.
As soon as we exit the gate, I pull off my Hijab to free my hair. We treat ourselves with some Turkish Delights and a pomegranate juice. What a rush!
THE REST OF THE TRIP These campaigns are challenging in every way. But Jesse and I like to think of ourselves like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. On a James Bond mission. Loving every minute of the danger that continually presents itself to us.
Our close friends in Istanbul had sternly warned us about local government religious spies that watch over the communities and report anything that seems anti-religious or just out of the very constrained norm. At one point the police had come to our hotel in Istanbul interrogating the staff about our location just a day after we had left. The hotel texted us asking not to return for ours and their sake. At this point, we again knew, that this was a very real situation and if we would get caught, we would be very much screwed. We wouldn’t be able to put on the same pokerface as we did in Egypt, since we were already on the radar and they knew what we were up to. The chase was on.
At a location, we can't disclose we tried to shoot for three days straight. On the third day they had hired extra security. Literally all the peaks of the hills were covered with armed men. One of the guards followed us for a whole afternoon and stayed within about a meter from us, he didn't even talk, he just looked like a stone cold killer. His face told of a dark background and we could see this guy was extremely dangerous. We were warned to exit the town asap. It was extremely frustrating for us to leave without completing the mission. But we did. There was no other way this time.
We then travelled back through Adiyaman, Cappadocia and then Istanbul and enjoyed the incredible sites that Turkey has to offer. Despite all the usual chases and bribes we paid along the way to do what we do, Turkey is one the most amazing places on Earth, and her food and landscapes are unforgettable, the people (not including the guards and religious fools) are charming too. A massive thank you to those who helped us, you know who you are. And Thank you Turkey for having us.