While there was a huge outcry regarding the casket photo of Whitney Houston that The National Enquirer sneakily obtained at her funeral, another photo related to the late diva prompted almost equal amounts of curiosity in the media and among her fans: Whitney’s final meal before she was thought to have drowned in the bathtub of her hotel suite. Now, German photographer Thomas Demand has recreated that last meal for an upcoming exhibit in New York City.
As The New York Times reports, it was the fact that the photo (above left, posted by TMZ) resembled a 17th-century Dutch still life — albeit one with a partially eaten hamburger and fries, a Heineken, and champagne — that intrigued Demand. “The proliferation of that kind of image at the time when she was not even in the coffin amazed me,” he told the paper. “It amazed me that it would ever have been released.” So he checked himself into the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in a similar room to the one in which Whitney died, and ordered the same items from room service. What you see on the above right is “Junior Suite,” one of several of Demand’s photos that will be exhibited at the Matthew Marks Gallery starting May 5th.
The artist made a point of stressing that he’s not looking to exploit Whitney’s death with the piece. “I don’t have anything to say about Whitney Houston,” he said, later adding, “I am neither a detective nor a policeman nor a journalist. So I took that image as a point of departure.” My initial reaction was surprise bordering on disgust, but now that I’ve read through Demand’s motivations I’m more intrigued and appreciative of him capturing a seemingly trivial moment that, because of its proximity to a legend’s final moments, suddenly took on greater significance.
Photo: TMZ/Matthew Marks Gallery, via Gothamist