Australian photographer, Jesse Walker, and a controversial nude Belgian model have been arrested and released at the Vatican twice for conducting a religiously-offensive photo shoot.
Walker and Marisa Papen, a Playboy model, were arrested after Papen was spotted sitting on a stack of bibles at St Peter’s Square.
This was the duo’s second arrest in the city. In December 2018 they were reportedly apprehended after Walker photographed a nude Papen carrying a large large wooden crucifix across a street, with St Peter’s Basilica in the background. Classy stuff.
Luckily the Vatican police forgave them and they were released after 10 hours.
This isn’t Walker and Papen’s first run-in with foreign police.
In the name of art and activism, Papen and the Australian photographer have been making a pilgrimage of sorts to historical and sacred religious locations to conduct racy, outright disrespectful photo shoots.
They first made headlines in September 2017, after photos emerged of Papen posing naked at ancient Egyptian sites. They were caught several times and bribed their way out of trouble, until a stubborn guard finally hauled them off to prison. For just one night.
The stunts are partly to promote Walker’s sunglasses company, Enki Eyewear. (No maybe not so much about art and activism after all.)
‘We are willing to put it all on the line for these photo shoots even if it means jail time. It is something we thrive on and are very used to now so it is nothing new,’ Walker recently told The Sun. ‘I like to think ENKI and Marisa are the two most controversial artists and brand on the planet right now, and that’s something I am very proud of.’
The duo have been multi-denominationally offensive, targetting Muslims, Jews and Christians with their nude photo shoots. Papen lifted up her burqa at the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul, Turkey; and sat on a rooftop baring it all in front of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.
Papen, a self-described ‘free-spirited and wild-hearted expressionist’, says she’s not driven by some social media popularity contest, but to make a statement about how ‘religion takes away individual power’.
For Walker it seems to be about generating culturally insensitive but traffic-generating content to flog sunglasses.
The stunts are now a photo project called FXCKRLGN, with the Frank Rose Gallery in Los Angeles selling fine art prints and a Papen nude doll.
‘However disruptive she might be, she spreads these powerful messages with a wild but loving heart with an unseen courageous intent of having a positive impact on humanity,’ Frank Rose wrote in a statement after the latest stunt. He blathered on:
‘I do not consider Marisa just being an artist, she is an activist. She is my friend and an angel that came into my life when I desperately needed one. But so does the world, I firmly believe. Marisa and her “FXCKRLGN” visual journey components have been taking (sic) headlines consecutively for over a year now in some of the world most influential media publishers and has proven itself to be the most disruptive fine art print production of the last decade.’
Fine art prints cost between €3500 and €20,000.
The project has been provided a free publicity campaign worth thousands of dollars, as the Murdoch press will pounce on any story that combines nudity, foreign jails, and countries with firmly-held religious beliefs.
Papen told The Sun she has now been vegetarian for three years, so in 2019 expect some strong in-the-nude visual statements about ‘how we keep animals for our own pleasure and amusement’.