The Australian photographer who found himself in hot water after photographing a model in the nude within an ancient Egyptian temple has defended his project.
Jesse Walker, who is based in Sydney, was questioned for hours alongside his model after they were arrested in Luxor, Southern Egypt in April. The shoot has come to light this week after they were posted online for both Enki Eyewear and the personal blog of the model, Marisa Papen.
Keen to differentiate between art and porn, Walker defended his images:
It was my fifth time over there in Egypt. So I’m very well aware of the culture over there. It’s a place that I’m very close to and I feel very drawn to.
It’s no disrespect to the Egyptian culture because I love the country so much. I do this for the love of art and I do this to get that imagery that no one else can get.
He claims the shoot had been interrupted three times previously, but that the pair had been able to bribe or talk their way out of any trouble.
As soon as we would see them (the guards) I would delete the photos because I have software that retrieves data. We would play a bit naïve. We would say it’s an art project and the concept is ancient Egypt, the time of the kings and the queens and the pharaohs, which was true. One time, we were in the middle of the desert and this car just came roaring out of the nowhere and there was dust and smoke and sand everywhere. It was the military police and I was yelling at Marisa ‘put your clothes, put your clothes on’.
Having faced the courts, the pair were let off with a warning. Walker quotes the judge as stating, “This is an Islamic country and if you do it again we will put you back in jail.”