I was browsing Retronaut while eating my morning yoghurt and came across a series of photographs of prisoners’ last meals on death row, shot by photographer James Reynolds. Reynolds came across a list of last meals and decided to recreate them – a beautiful project, if you ask me. So many of our memories center around food – at least mine do. How do you choose your last meal? What do you think of? I know that in my case the choice would probably have less to do with my tastebuds and more to do with childhood memories and a sense of belonging.
You can see the photographs here. The inmates asked for everything from Häegen-Dazs ice cream to gum to what looks like a raw onion. I, however, was more struck by the thought behind one of those meals than the pictures themselves. The last photo of the set depicts a single black olive on a gaudy orange prison tray.
This is what Reynolds had to say about that particular meal: “The single olive still had its stone. The inmate thought that after being executed and buried, an olive tree—a symbol of peace—would grow from him. It was indeed a very profound thought or idea, but an olive tree has not yet been found on his grave.”
So sad and beautiful, it broke my heart. In a good way.
The photo of the olive trees is from here.