Death Penalty gallery - No human way to kill
© Robert Priseman
For more information on each execution method, please click on the image.This on-line gallery shows two series of paintings and etchings by Robert Priseman, "American Execution" and "Modern Means of Execution". The art works are reproduced courtesy of Goldmark Gallery.
Robert Priseman described the exhibition:
"I produced a group of twelve etchings in 2007 which look at different types of execution found around the world today and I was shocked to find that death by stoning, hanging, electrocution, firing squad and gassing still go on. I was also shocked when I found out that the last use of the guillotine in France occured in Marsaille in 1977, and the last use of the garrotte in Spain took place in 1974.
"Then, as I looked into it further, I realised that there were five different execution methods still on the statute books in the US, and thought that would make a powerful and thought provoking set of paintings.
"One of the key things that struck me was the sheer inventiveness of techniques people have come up with to kill others, and that how quite often death is not quick and easy as it is shown on film.
"A person being killed in the electric chair (last used in September 2007) for instance takes around 15-20 minutes to die and they do so by burning. Even the severed head is conscious for around 30 seconds.
"Another thing that struck me was that there is a high degree of ritual involved in executions, this is something which I think occurs as a way for those involved to mentally separate themselves off from the act in order that they may carry it out – because, at some deep and profound level, I believe one recognises that it is wrong.
"I think this also manifests itself in the use of the mattress on the lethal Injection gurney, or the leather padding on an electric chair.
"The death penalty however is a different subject. I have always opposed the death penalty, and if anything, my resolve to help those working towards its abolition has increased. The death penalty doesn't prevent terrible crimes and only seems to serve as a means of revenge on those it is visited on.
"However, it appears that those who get the death penalty are mostly the poor, undereducated and of below average IQ. It is a system which is weighted against the socially dispossessed and occasionally kills the innocent."