The Last Supper: Odell Barnes Jr.


On November 30, 1989, Helen Bass was murdered in her home. She was found face down on her bed, naked, having been shot, bludgeoned and stabbed.

Odell Barnes Jr. was convicted of Bass’ murder and executed by lethal injection on March 1, 2000. The final stages of Barnes’ legal appeals attracted a great deal of media attention when various human rights groups raised concerns about the conviction. These group alleged that the prosecution’s case consisted largely of circumstantial evidence and that Barnes’ state-appointed attorney failed to provide an adequate defence. (According to reports the prosecution was guilty of perjury, misconduct and constitutional violations, while Barnes’ defence failed to challenge prosecution witnesses, did not carry out any independent investigations, failed to independently test forensic evidence, and failed to present evidence which might have helped to establish innocence.)

In his final statement Barnes maintained his innocence and, in place of a final meal, he requested “Justice, Equality, World Peace“.

The challenge for this composition was to find a way of representing nothingness in a manner that is photographically interesting. I opted for vast collection of empty vessels, tipped over in various ways and piled precariously atop one another. The extinguished candle dangling over the table ledge is a reminder of death and absence, while the torn red cloth might suggest blood.