A Belgian model was spat at and chased for walking completely naked through the largely ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, during the Purim holiday earlier this year.
Marisa Papen and her crew undertook the photo shoot during the festival, on March 21, but only posted a video of the chase on her website last week.
For the photo shoot, she walked naked throughout the neighborhood, including posing in front of a yeshiva school bus and in front of a synagogue. The neighborhood is home to a number of Hasidic sects, which adhere to a strict interpretation of religious laws, especially those relating to modesty.
Papen wrote on her website that she had previously walked naked on several streets in Williamsburg, but did not get the shots that she and her team were looking for. She said that some of the men whom she passed acted aggressively, while others looked at her as if she had “risen from the dead.” Still others — as seen in the photos posted on her website — looked away from her.
At some point, she said, it started raining, and she danced naked in the rain.
Papen wrote that she was trying to “push the envelope.”
Afterwards, as she and her photographer and producer sat in an Uber, the car was allegedly surrounded by Hasidic men, one of whom spat into the open window. One of the men also called the police.
The model jumped out of the car wearing a coat and ran away, followed by about 10 of the men yelling “Go” and “Get out,” Papen wrote on her website. She eventually ran into the police. She lied to a police officer, telling him she had not been naked — despite claims to the contrary by the Hasidic men who were also on the scene. She said that the men had been aggressive to her, and was let go.
A webpage about her project says that “Marisa’s goal is to raise awareness about the global suppression of women by the hand of religion. Battling this issue as a young activist and progressive art producer has been an intense but utterly impactful and rewarding journey.”
Papen caused a stir in Israel last year, when she posed nude on a balcony overlooking the the Western Wall. She has also been photographed naked at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque and near St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
She says she is an advocate for allowing women to go topless in public, as men do.