Monday, May 18, 2015

Communion of a Different Sort: "The Last Supper" at the Block Museum

On the day that the jury in Boston delivered a death sentence in the Boston Marathon bombing, I went to see an exhibition called The Last Supper at Northwestern's Block Museum.

I hope everyone goes to see this exhibition.

Part of The Last Supper - exhibition at Northwestern's Block Museum

The Last Supper is a staggering collection of 600 plates that the artist Julie Green has painted with images and notations about the last meals of people put to death in states across the US.

I have to honestly say that I am so staggered by The Last Supper that I don't know exactly what I think. Just a few reactions:

 . . . Clearly, the creation of these plates has been a supreme devotional act; we get to participate in a small way by looking at them and the stories they represent.

 . . . Sure, the statistics of the number of executions carried out state-by-state are provided in the introduction to the exhibit. But it sinks in in a different way when you see picture after picture after picture after picture . . . .

 . . . It is the bizarre ritualized nature of the last meal for the condemned ("anything you want!") that makes Green's project possible. These plates show the individual circumstances that put the lie to the idea that there is any state ritual equals state justice.

I'm tempted to show images of some of the individual plates here. But maybe that's too easy.

You go.

You see it.

You figure it out . . . .

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