Have you ever wondered what a convicted murderer orders for their last meal? No, neither have we, but actually there is something grimly fascinating about a new collection of photographs of exactly that subject matter.
Today’s Special, by Brooklyn artist and chef Julia Ziegler-Haynes, captures on film the last meals of death row inmates on the eve of their executions. Trawling through the records from prisons across America to first recreate and then photograph them, Ziegler-Haynes’ food styling takes its inspiration from a ’70s work by Christian Boltanski; and is characterised by a very unappetising mix of blunt backdrops and stark simplicity.
Each of the 24 meals has a description of both the food and the prisoner, including a brief history of their crimes; which after reading, and studying their requests, become all the more disturbing. Not recommended for reading before dinner.
Today’s Special is available in hardback, published by OHWOW.
Lewis Eugene Gilbert, II
July 1, 2003
A half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, a box of Whoppers and a box of assorted ice cream cones.
Lewis Eugene Gilbert, II, 31, was executed by lethal injection on June 1, 2003 in McAlester, Oklahoma for the murder of a 37 year old woman. Gilbert spent 7 years on death row.
James Rexford Powell
October 1, 2002
One pot of coffee.
James Rexford Powell, 56, was executed by lethal injection on October 1, 2002 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a 10 year old girl. Powell spent 11 years on death row.
Jackie Lee Willingham
July 24, 2003
Fettuccine Alfredo, a small deep-dish pepperoni pizza, breadsticks and two Peppermint Patties.
Jackie Lee Willingham, 33, was executed by lethal injection on June 24, 2003 in McAlester, Oklahoma for the murder of a 62 year old woman. Willingham spent 8 years on death row.
Robert Anthony Buell
September 24, 2002
A single black, unpitted olive.
Robert Anthony Buell, 62, was executed by lethal injection on September 24, 2002 in Lucasville, Ohio for the murder of a 11 year old girl. Buell spent 8 years on death row.
Peter J. Miniel
October 6, 2004
Twenty beef tacos, twenty beef enchiladas, two double cheeseburgers, a pizza with jalapeños, fried chicken, spaghetti with salt, a small fruit cake, half of a chocolate cake, half of a vanilla cake, cookies-n-cream ice cream, caramel pecan fudge ice cream, two Coca-Colas, two Pepsi-Colas, two root beers and two orange juices.
Peter J. Miniel, 42, was executed by lethal injection on October 6, 2004 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a 21 year old man. Miniel spent 16 years on death row.
David Leon Woods
May 4, 2007
Pizza and birthday cake.
David Leon Woods, 42, was executed by lethal injection on May 4, 2007 in Michigan City, Indiana for the murder of a 77 year old man. Woods spent 22 years on death row.
All images © Julia Ziegler-Haynes: Todayʼs Special. OHWOW, 2012