- A new pop-up restaurant that has opened in Tokyo serves the last meals requested by death row inmates before they were executed.
- The restaurant is one component of a greater “body-themed” exhibit by Japanese art collective Chim↑Pom.
- The installation, called the Ningen Restaurant – or Human Restaurant – is open until October 28.
In Tokyo’s red light district neighbourhood of Kabukichi, Shinjuku, Chim↑Pom– a Japanese guerilla art collective– has opened a pop-up restaurant serving the last meals requested by famous death row inmates.
Dubbed the Ningen Restaurant (translated as “human restaurant”), the pop-up, which operates until October 28, offers meals requested by convicted criminals such as Gary Mark Gilmore before they were executed. Gilmore, a serial criminal, was convicted on counts of armed robbery, assault, and two murders he had committed in Utah. His case gained international attention after he demanded to receive the death sentence for his crimes.
For his last meal, Gilmore opted for a hamburger, mashed potatoes, a hard-boiled egg, and multiple shots of whiskey. According to Munchies, Gilmore requested Jack Daniels, though Chim↑Pom’s version uses Maker’s Mark instead.
Here’s a look at Chim↑Pom’s take on Gilmore’s last meal:
最後の言葉「Let’s do it.」はナイキのコピーの元になる。
— エリイChim↑Pom (@ellieille) October 16, 2018
Chim↑Pom reportedly features the last meals of other criminals including John Wayne Gacy, a Chicago-based serial killer and rapist, who requested to have a pound of strawberries, a bucket of KFC chicken, fries, and a dozen fried shrimp for his last meal.
The restaurant also serves the last meal of Joseph Paul Jernigan, a criminal from Texas convicted of murder who donated his corpse to the Texas Anatomy Board at the suggestion of the prison chaplain. Without his knowledge, his body was later integral in the establishment of a federal government project meant to digitalize the human body, called the Visible Human Project.
Chim↑Pom’s recreation of Jernigan’s last requested meal includes two cheeseburgers, a salad, and an iced tea. However, Jernigan reportedly refused to eat his actual meal when the time came.
— 手塚マキ「裏読書」4月20日発売！ (@smappatekka) October 17, 2018
The two-week pop-up is part of a larger art installation by Chim↑Pom, featuring artwork by Austrian avant-garde artist Hermann Nitsch and performances from local artists such as Aida Makoto and shock art performers Dengenki Network.
Based out of the Kabukicho Book Center, the pop-up is the building’s last event before being demolished following an acquisition by a Tokyo-based property developer that operates the nearby famous Robot Restaurant.
Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like inside the restaurant:
— kazumin08 (@kazumin197608) October 22, 2018
The “body-based” theme of the pop-up and the other exhibitions are inspired by the Kabukicho neighbourhood’s history as a place where, according to Chim↑Pom’s website, “people used the sex work industry, bodies, and desire as weapons or ways of consumption to survive.”
The project isn’t the first of its kind. In 2017, photographer Henry Hargreaves achieved coverage for his photographic recreation of famous death row meals. Hargreaves is a critic of the death penalty and created his photo series following news that Texas was rescinding criminals’ ability to make last meal requests.
A representative for Chim↑Pom did not immediately reply to INSIDER’s request for comment.
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