For a while now, I’ve had this weird idea of hosting a series of macabre dinner parties which serves the last meals requested by convicts on death row. (Although I think I might need to find more twisted friends first). Seems British artist James Reynolds finds the dark psychology of these last meals as fascinating as I do. His series Last Suppers features just that: the last suppers of American death row killers, presented un-dramatically on standard orange prison trays.
Why did the inmate choose those particular foods? What do they say about that person? Why does this last supper ritual exist at all, and what does it say about our relationship between human life and food? What was it like to eat these foods knowing they were about to die? The kinds of questions provoked by Reynolds’ slick and graphic images reveals the morbid curiosity around death and crime that I think most people secretly harbor. And that, for me, is the most interesting aspect of his work: not necessarily what it reveals about the minds of criminals, but what it reveals about the dark preoccupations of our own minds.
What would you eat if you knew it was going to be your last meal?
// All images via the artist’s website. For other artists working with this theme, check out Jonathon Kambouris’ Last Meals series, browse a photo essay entitled Last Suppers by Celia Shapiro; or watch a flash animation called Last Request by Mike Stanfill.
Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things:
- Prisoner’s inventions
- Ridiculously photogenic 19th c. criminal
- Mug shots from 19th century NZ
- Suicide landscapes by Philip Braham