Molten lucent lava, burning black darkness. Cherry-red tears slowly rolling down those rocky cheeks. Following the ashen path of fire. Crackly noise of a planet that’s changing shape. Moving together with the shifting crust, Unknowing, in wonder. Tumbling and tumbling… Lavishly. Explosively. Erupt.
And… then randomly, impetuously cool down again. Like nothing ever happened.
Usually when I arrive at a place that is unexplored territory, the first thing I do is go for a walk, look for food, feast my eyes. But after a past few really intense days in Turkey, I didn't feel like leaving my room yet. Here's all the angles from a tiny space in huge a building that's gonna be my bedroom for the next couple of hours.
Good night x
'I added some pictures underneath the initial story from when I finally did go outside :)' 'That goldfish market was one of the most upsetting things I've seen in a while, adults juggling around those plastic bags, looking for their perfect batch. Next week there's gonna be a dog-eating festival in the next town from where I'm staying right now. What the ****???!'
When I looked myself in the mirror around this time last year I felt transformed. My blonde manes got taken down till the root, shaved it all of (actually I made my baby brother do it, with doubt in his eyes but a quirky smile on his face). The very next day I felt the urge popping up to share my new look with the world (aka facebook), silly I know, but nevertheless I installed my camera, made a self-portrait and ditched my old profile picture. The variety of commentary coming at me was huge. It was super interesting to read how some people were loving my ‘’next-level-naked-look” and other seemed in total shock... some even decided to unfollow my work because I wasn’t ‘Marisa’ anymore - ‘how is that even possible?’ Questions and opinions kept coming my way; ‘Are you going to stop creating photographs? Are you sick? Why would you ‘cut off’ your femininity’ Hair is what defines a woman!!’ Some of those statements made me think. What is that we carry in our hair? What does our hair say about us? Even about humanity... Girls that spend thousands of dollars for the perfect ombre (or was that in 2016?!;)) Guys that are getting groomed like dogs. To me it’s all a little much but then again that’s just an opinion from a girl who thinks everyone looks best when walking straight out of the Ocean with a salty head (hair or no hair).
The next morning when I went out for a run in the rain everything made even more sense. I felt streamlined, powerful, resourceful - not only my head but my entire body felt differently. I felt light like a feather but solid like a bullet. The cold drops of rain dripping down my face brought almost tears to my eyes, well actually not almost… When I got back home I jumped straight from the cold pouring rain into a hot steaming shower - almost tears again ;)
And as I go from totally bare to watching new growth come in for the first time in my life, the idea of starting over seems completely natural. So, let’s see where this fresh load of hair will take me this time. But I will go back to bald one day, that’s for sure!
At first I was going to pen down a story influenced by the Greek Mythologie but in some way it just wouldn't work out. I could have made a different selection of images probably that would have made it simpler to tie everything together... But decided I just wanted to share my favorite images with you rather than my words. So here you go :)
Also,here's 2 other stories that we created on this same trip! LOVE GAME & LA PULPO PS: the fish was dead and consumed after (not by me)
Money unlocks the gate to happiness some people say… And I have to admit, it is the key to a lot of things. I mean, if my bank account would be completely empty I wouldn’t be able to explore this World the way I’ve been doing the last couple of years… and since exploring is what makes me happy… there is some truth in it, I guess.
But I will always remember this story my father once told me when I was about 8 years old… It was a Saturday night and we were driving back home from our every week grandmother-visit. Dinner, play some games, watching F.C. De Kampioenen (great Belgian TV-show)… Right before F.C. De Kampioenen would start, there was a 5 minute intermezzo that revealed the winning numbers of the lottery that week. Without even knowing what it was about, I was super intrigued by the whole show. I wanted to play too!! Result = whining little Marisa. So then my dad decided to tell me what’s the name of the game and what had happened to one of his close friends that had won the Lottery twice in his life. Not sure what the chances are but that’s a lot of ‘good luck’! Only a few years after having hit the big jackpot for the second time, he committed suicide. Sadly all that ‘good luck’ didn’t pay off for him.
Those words always stayed with me ever since and after having travelled a bunch and sometimes being around people who have made it, money-wise… Owning a lot does not at all mean having a richer life.
Then again, sad but true we need money to live.
So what’s quickest way to get your hands on one of those keys and cash fast? Gambling… Right?! Although my path had brought me to Vegas several times before, I had never hit the slots. Maybe because of my fathers story or maybe because I’m generally happy and I don’t need one of those keys or maybe because I was just too fascinated with people who were putting their money on the table… Seeing a natural high in their eyes, blinded by those flashy bright lights.
This time there was no escape, it was my turn to get the Vegas-VIbe on. I have to admit, it was fun. Just not as fun as throwing of my clothes, feeling free and escaping into my own World again.
Hot Trash's "One More Chance (feat. MELI)" shares the familiar experience of wondering if you did the right thing ending your relationship. Most of us have romanticized how blissful it would all be with just one more chance.
The video represents the feeling you have when you see an old photo of an ex in your phone, reminiscing about the best of times, and temporary amnesia about the truth, making up a romantic story of how it could be again. Starring world renowned Artist and Nudist Marisa Papen, she shares her thoughts on art, freedom and truth with us; "Being true to who we are is the most important thing to me. We face daily news of abuse of power, sexually and otherwise. Many too fearful to come forward before are finally sharing their voice and truly being heard, knowing they matter, it's so freeing. We also see countless Instagram models looking for likes by exploiting themselves physically while often being judged negatively or blamed for unwanted advances for showing off their bodies. Freedom to be in our truth is a birth right, showing our bodies isn't an invitation for unwanted sexual advances, nor is being naked not an art form, so the controversy around people's rights to be nude feels like a law against our nature. Nudity seems to be extremely confusing for many, no one should be ashamed, abused or forced to hide themselves. I see our bodies as entirely unique, beautiful and ours to do with as we please, as long as we do not harm another. I hope that by sharing my body and art I free peoples beliefs of stigmas, empower them, and open their minds. Much like feeling confined in a relationship that isn't working, many are confined by societies decided on judgements. Now that people are feeling more courageous to express their truth, we are taking back our power. I love feeling free so I choose to make my art surrounded by nature and the beautiful places that draw attention to things that matter to me. Being arrested for my art and the feeling of being free is something I stand firmly against."
Marisa Papen is a 25 year old nude-artist from Belgium. Born in the town of Paal, she grew up feeling more comfortable nude than in clothing. Recently arrested for entering the pyramids at Giza sans clothing, she made global news headlines.
Hot Trash, comprised of artists Kelly Halloran and Rocco Gardner, will release their freshman album in February, One More Chance is the first single featuring vocals by Meli, recorded at Rancho V in Pioneertown, CA.
One more chance (feat. MELI) by Hot Trash
Coloring: J Bookallil
Director, Editor: Rocco
Assistant editor: Jonathan Covert
#PLASTICSUSHI GOES #PLANETPLASTIC Not only life underneath the Big Blue surface has considerable marks of human fingerprints, (obviously) our whole planet has. The Earth has been through several major catastrophes and mass extinctions before, but this is the first one in human history - and yes, all thanks to… Ourselves.
When I was a little kid I remember being glued to the screen when watching wildlife documentaries on National Geographic. I’d even have dreams at night about wildlife and wild places. I remember one dream very fondly. I was running barefoot in the middle of a huge stretch of zebras while the big orange ball of fire was setting behind majestic curly trees. It was marvelous - the realest thing I had ever seen, even though if it was nothing more than a dream. When I woke up, I knew that one day, I’d be running there for real, on African soil, through a sun-covered Savannah, gallopping with those zebras.
And then this October, 20 years after that dream I found myself In Central Africa, Congo, the land of Gold and Blood. On a mission to realize my vision. Although a few days before my actual arrival, Olivier, our host told us, there would only be a very small chance to spot some animals in the real wilderness. There was a game reserve (not a zoo, the animals are actually wild and have a lot of space) pretty close to where we were staying he said, but I still wanted the real deal. He thought I was aware of the statistics. And I was... but I had no idea the situation was this bad.
Unfortunately he was indeed more than right... 10 days of driving through incredible nature... Encounter with animals: One baboon.
For hundreds and thousands of years these African Savannahs were overflowing with wildlife. However, thanks to man’s destructive ways, these animals have been completely disappearing. To give you an idea, here's some numbers from Kudelungu and Upemba: 32000 elephants to 180, 1000 zebras to 78, The last lion was seen in 1973, The last buffalo in 1991, The last rhino in 1954, Cheetah and wild dogs have also disappeared, there’s simply not enough prey left for them to eat. Almost this entire decline is down to human activity. Habitat loss, deforestation, climate change and the biggest felony here in Congo; poaching.
It's safe to say that Africa’s wildlife is in jeopardy, the situation is immersily critical!
Fortunately it's not entirely too late yet... there's still hope thanks to organizations such as Forgotten Parks. These people are risking their lives day in day out to protect the remaining animals and introduce new wildlife again. The rangers localize poacher camps, they rescue hurt/dying animals, they look for traps that have been put out by the poachers, and they train the rangers very hard to fight them if necessary. Forgotten Parks also created an incredible educational system where they teach local children about animal rights, the importance of what the rangers do and so on and so on... I could keep on preaching about this organization for a much longer time but just check out their actions yourself: www.forgottenparks.org
If you don't buy this Calendar please consider making a donation through their website anyways. Because we all, politicians, businesses, you and me, have an interest and a responsibility to act right now and to protect what we all value: a healthy future for nature, animals and so, ourselves...
I hope this project will open some eyes and it will be the start of a change that has to happen.
The profit of #PLANETPLASTIC goes out to Forgotten Parks.
And last but definitely not least, a special thanks to legendary photographer Uwe Ommer, Marie-Aude & Olivier Delafoy from Hamaji Magazine and Robert Muir from Forgotten Parks Foundation. Love, Marisa
Once upon a time, in the town of Picasso and Dali, there was a girl. Every morning at sunrise she wandered around the streets, Smelled the flowers and danced her way up along the old white plastered walls to top of the village. And then when she had reached the top, she ran back down. Straight to the sea. She dove in and swam to her favorite bay where she could be alone with the fish. Once she touched the opposite shore, she laid herself down on the warm rocks. To dream a little and absorb the sun. When she would squeeze her eyes she could see the town waking up on the other side. She could see it, but not hear it. She lived for those mornings. To just float in the salt water and be alone with the fish, in silence. Until she swam back...
Civil; cultured and polite, as in someone who is civilized. Civilization; the stage of human social development and organization which is considered most advanced.
Well... I believe we as civilized people have somehow a false sense of what is advanced. Reading or watching the news these days doesn’t really show too much of a cultured and polite behavior. And I honestly think it’s because we’re all going and acting in a way that goes against our natural environment. We’ve pushed it so far that right now, we even find ourselves destroying our own environment. Our air, our water... While there’s no way to exist without them…
We can all blame it on the industries, blame it on businesses, blame it on our government, in fact they ARE the foundation of all of this. But… it’s also time to start blaming ourselves. And of course, we all have different pasts and paths in life. Not everyone has had the chance to carefully outline their own steps, but the fact is… If you don’t come up with your own plan, you become part of someone else’s plan. That’s when we get turned into slaves, into servants of the system. Suddenly we all follow, blindly. Big herds of people executing their jobs every single day. Oh sorry, I forgot about the Weekend, 2 full free days, what a privilege. But then it’s Monday again and there we go again - from 7am till 7pm. Twisting and turning ourselves to get everything done what is expected from us. To try and climb the ladder of success. Earn more, get a higher degree, get a better job, a bigger house…
I guess it’s time to open our eyes and realize, this ladder to success isn’t the ladder to happiness...
I hold my head up just enough to see the sky, And when we go we won't go slow, we'll put up such a fight, When they fade into the dust and into ash. But all the children know for sure this pain will surely pass, Strong and wise and you are love, And when the tide it comes you will float above, And you will be one day exactly what you are. Just keep your head held high, kiss your fist and touch the sky [Chorus] Too late to keep the world from dying, It's not too late to spread the love you have, One day when we are ready for crying, One day I know that we'll be there, little girl. Too late. [Verse 2] The sound we hear it is our hearts they are in time They're marching clear and swift, the beat forever in our minds It gives us hope, it gives us strength, you know, to carry on Keep fighting till the end and past the end you will be strong. [Chorus 2] Too late to keep the world from dying, It's not too late to spread the love you share, One day, we'll all be there, yeah...
This is what was brought to our senses just after being caught in Caïro and just before our lock-up in Luxor. Speaking of contradictions…
SURMA… Before laying eyes on this story… A short little intro about the true meaning of a tribe: Tribal people are very distinct and self-sufficient, living of and with their land. They are not integrated into the ‘modern’ World. Most tribes have never even been exposed to the ‘modern’ World. They don't know about the existence of anything that is out of their reach. This tribe for instance had no idea the fact there is an Ocean out there… Seeing is believing. They have their own unique cultural, social and political entity which has been passed through for many generations. They have their own customs and believes, their own beauty-standards, their own religion (read living life in harmony with nature and the spirit world). You may say, they are totally different then we are. But to me they are, what we once were… In touch with nature, a part of nature, immensely grateful and respectful towards it…
That being said… Knowing this and knowing me, you can imagine how stoked I was to go on this trip. Never had I been so close to witness a lifestyle I had always dreamt of. Here’s what I saw and felt and smelled and thought...
…AND ME As soon as we arrived in the Omo Valley more and more tribal people started to appear in the lush landscape. Men with big guns herding 50 cows and 30 sheep, women carrying water and branches on their heads and kids who were just being kids. Running, screaming, playing, waving. While being tumbled around from left to right (due to a road, you can't really call a road), our guide started prepping us a little bit on what we were about to experience. I wanted to pay attention but I just couldn't... My eyes were locked on the wild beauty outside. Then, finally, we pulled up the ‘driveway’ of the mountain we'd call home for a week. Straight away our car got surrounded by a dozen of curious souls - we stepped out. Laughs and screams and a few reaching hands were coming our way. It was overwhelming. Apparently/usually when tourists visit (which happens maybe twice a year, or not even); they get into the ‘village’, snap a few pictures, have a little walk through the area and get onto their next adventure. As much as this would be a different encounter for us, it would be for them. We were planning on hanging around for the next 6 days.
While zigzagging through the cornfields and the haphazardly-placed thatched little huts, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact how bizar it must be for them… Imagine… Random people rocking up in your backyard, sticking cameras in your face when you're just strolling through your daily habits, living the only life you know. Day in, day out. Because I didn’t want them to perceive me as a tourist I didn’t pull out my camera that first day. It was quite difficult to detain though, every single maneuver they made was a reflection of beauty beyond belief. Soft and gentle - at the same time - primal and tough.
As intrigued I was by their appearance, they were by me. And I probably forgot to mention, you might already have noticed, but a month before this trip I decided to shave my head. I figured I’d look less of a stranger, having the same haircut as they do. It worked. Until they touched it. The different texture of my millimetered hair compared to theirs got them entertained for a full hour, maybe even longer. At that exact moment their pure energy became truly palpable to me. I literally felt vibrations when some of them were rubbing my head. It was pure magic.
What we claim to call beautiful in our Western World isn’t quite the same how the Surma tribe pursues beauty. Both Surma-men and woman pierce their ears, some woman stretch their lower lip for a plate. They scar their bodies by making little cuts repetitively - isn’t it funny we invented all these cremes, lasers and all other treatments to get rid of ours :)… They also have a long history of painting themselves, using pulverized minerals they create drawings and patterns. Not only is it an expression of emotion and art, there’s also a more practical reason behind it. Different colors are used for ritual, to prevent illness, to attract the opposite sex or to relate to family members or certain animals.
Every single day I felt a stronger admiration when observing them. One time I was resting in the shade of a sculptural tree and I was watching 2 men and a woman from a distance, they were just sitting in the grass, playing with some leaves and collecting some stones. I was trying to go back in my memory and imagine that same exact situation happening in our civilized world. I couldn’t. On all my travels, I had never seen something like this, just 3 adults, being peacefully nestled down, without any entertainment… No music, no electric devices, no wine, no magazines, nothing, just sharing a word now and then. Think about it, we all work in order to make money to play... But then in the evening or in the weekends, we’re too tired to play… We sit down and watch television. You’d think we’d have crazy parties after work or orgies or whatever with all that money we make, but no, we don’t. We pay off loans and buy another car and buy this and buy that. Well… I could go on about this for a long time. But let’s get back to the day they took me down to the river. Which was the third day of our stay. Visualizing it again, I still get the shivers. Because we couldn't really communicate, there was only one thing I could do... go with their flow, my body was their canvas now. With impeccable precision and devotion they were circling around me, using stems and grass or just their fingertips to give my skin a second dimension. And just a few meters further there was Jesse, capturing the whole spectacle. Creating another circle, like a solar system.
Being almost half a year later now, I still have no words to explain what I felt while being with them. But what is most memorable to me is that, although we come from completely different places... We connected, they recognized me, they accepted me for who I was without prejudice and they gave me love.
Thank you Surma, for showing me the essence of life. You truly are forever in my heart.