The Last Supper

Photographer Harry Hargreaves Captures the Last Meal Requests of Prisoners on Death Row

“I wanted the viewer to be able to relate to these inmates through their culinary tastes,” says Kiwi photographer Harry Hargreaves, whose No Seconds series captures the last meals of prisoners on Death Row. “For me they were just statistics until I read about their meal requests and somehow this humanized them for me.” Where some artists work with paint, Hargreaves’ medium is food; he ¬has made a name for himself creating gastronomical fancies such as a bacon alphabet, Jello-O presidents and deep fried gadgets, which explains his particular take on the contentious subject of capital punishment.

The tradition of the ‘last meal’ draws on the Christian story of The Last Supper and offers death-row inmates the chance to request a final meal before execution. Hargreaves’ photographs offer an intimate insight into the final hours of ten men, and invite the viewer to consider the meals in the context of these killers’ crimes. For example, Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a truck bomb in Oklahoma, killing 168 people in what was the worst act of terrorist in America prior to 9/11, ordered a pint of mint choc chip ice-cream. By contrast, Victor Feguer, sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of a physician, ordered a single black olive with the stone still in it. There are about as many opinions on capital punishment as there are prisoners on death row – and No Seconds is a poignant reminder of their fate.

The Plus: What challenges you the most when you take pictures?
Harry Hargreaves:
The biggest challenge is always motivating yourself to make the shoot happen!

TP: What type of photography do you like and like to work on?
I like anything that engages the viewer and makes them think. If it makes them smile that’s a big bonus! Basically, all my series are for my pleasure and I hope others like them. I think you have to trust your own instinct.

TP: Any exciting new projects?
I recently completed this series of Gingerbread Art Galleries with Caitlin Levin. We made the iconic structures from food and then photographed them. We debuted the series at Art Basel in December and opened the NY show in February.