From archetypal junk food including pizzas and ice-cream to the gourmet delights of lobster, clams and shrimps, there’s an eerie context to these last suppers. by Helen Thompson (10 photos total)
1. These meals resemble unhealthy school dinners – pizza, nuggets, ice-cream, Pepsi – or photographs in a glossy magazine. It’s only when you learn they are the last suppers of prisoners on death row that they take on a morbid significance.
2. Not all are the fast-food blowouts you might expect – triple-murderer Allen Lee Davis chose lobster, fried potatoes, shrimp, clams, garlic bread and root beer in 1999.
3. By contrast, Victor Feguer, hanged in 1963 in Iowa, ordered a single olive with the stone in as his final, symbolic meal.
4. Karla Faye Tucker, executed in 1998, ate a banana, peach and garden salad with ranch dressing. Her healthy choice is pitifully ironic – we usually eat fruit and vegetables to prolong our lives. She was the first woman to be executed in Texas for more than 100 years.
5. By contrast, career criminal Robert Alton Harris’s last meal in 1992 included a pack of cigarettes bearing the warning “Smoking Kills”. We’ll never know if that was a deliberate attempt at the blackest of humour.
6. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, ate two tubs of mint choc chip ice-cream before he was killed by lethal injection in 2001.
7. The idea behind the project, initiated by graphic designer Matt Prosser, was to juxtapose the morbid context surrounding the meal with the relative mundanity of the food itself.
8. The idea behind the project, initiated by graphic designer Matt Prosser, was to juxtapose the morbid context surrounding the meal with the relative mundanity of the food itself.
9. Prosser approached still-life and food photographer Helen Thompson, who recreated the meals on trays in a studio. Needless to say, she didn’t eat them afterwards.
10. Helen Thompson’s photographs, and other images from the Sony World Photography Awards, are at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, London WC2 until 20 May.