Model Marisa Papen is raising awareness about sharks with a truly wild new photo shoot in which she calmly swims nude alongside the undersea predators.
The Belgian model, activist and naturalist's controversial past projects have seen her pose nude in front of Egypt's pyramids and in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But beneath the coastal Hawaiian waters of Oahu, Papen pulled off her wildest photographic feat yet by swimming in the buff with sharks in these striking images captured by photographer Benjamin Ono.
"Obviously I was going to be naked, not wearing goggles was sort of the challenging part because I asked the photographer to tell me when to dive as the sharks were approaching me," Papen tells Maxim. "They were trusting me, I was trusting them."
Papen's preparations for the shoot included completing a free dive course and practice swims with dolphins. By the time she met the Galapogos and reef sharks, she felt "hyper-present, but not fearful."
The resulting "shark series" is featured in a 2021 calendar that was directed and curated by Papen and produced by Earth Family. The non-profit creative studio, artist network and agency aims to "speak for the voice-less and touch upon social taboos to affect positive change" through art focused on human-nature relationships.
Additionally, the organization promotes body normalization, calling bare skin "a birth right." Accordingly, Papen appears au naturel in other calendar images featuring a boar, pigeon, snake, camel, bee, pilot whale, cow, butterfly and penguin.
Looking ahead, Papen's art will be channeled heavily through Earth Family. "My non-profit will most likely become my creative container. I will still be creating my own imagery but I will also support other artists in their process."
Limited to just 250 copies, the Earth Family 2021 Calendar is currently available to purchase for $83.69 (€69,00) online, with all proceeds benefitting the Earth Family fund.
See a few more of Papen's eye-catching recent Instagrams below: