Gift

Through the ages poisoning has been the domain of women. As the traditional preparer of meals and as nurses for the sick within the family, they have had access to knowledge and ingredients relating to medicinal and poisonous herbs over the centuries.

Unwelcome fellow human beings can be easily removed with the right ingredient and the right dose, always with the aim of leaving as little trace as possible – ingenious, insidious, and quiet.

The Still Life Photography series «gift» uses pairs of images to visualize specific poisonings (and attempts) in contemporary history. The food (or drink) that was served is juxtaposed to the poisonous ingredient invisible to the victim—the pivotal part of the meal.

As the characteristic basic color in this editorial crime photography series, pink represents the epitome of the delicate and the feminine and plays with its symbolic meaning and stereotypes. Simultaneously, through its proximity to the signal color red in which the poison motifs are colored, the hue discreetly hints at the imminent danger.

The term ‘Gift’ translates to ‘poison’ in German.

GENRE

Editorial Still Life Photography

LOCATION

Hannover/Hamburg, Germany

STATUS

ongoing

»MASHED POTATOES«, the poisonings committed by Simone S. — Editorial Still Life Photography »MASHED POTATOES«, the poisonings committed by Simone S. — Editorial Still Life Photography

»Mashed Potatoes«

Simone S.’s interest in Martin S. was based entirely on her financial difficulties. The young woman found the well-off computer scientist through a dating agency and the Swiss couple married soon after. Daniel, her boyfriend and father of her child born in 1992, lived in the same household. Martin S. tolerated the triangular constellation, but the couple soon found the husband to be an annoying ‘troublemaker’ and decided to get rid of him. After several unsuccessful experiments with sleeping pills and poisonous mushrooms, Simone S. succeeded in the third attempted murder in September 1993 with the help of Daniel C.

POISON

sleeping pills (dissolved in mashed potatoes); local anaesthetic (injected); death cap mushrooms (juice, injected)

VICTIM

Husband Martin S.

ATTEMPT SUCCESSFUL?

yes

»Beer«

Margit Grätz—difficult childhood, speech impairment and an IQ of 74—was introduced to her husband by neighbors: a lone farmer, alcoholic. The wedding took place four months later in rural Bavaria, two children followed. Over the years Josef’s drinking increased until he was no longer able to get out of bed. Margit had to carry the crates of beer to his bed and run the entire farm by herself. One evening in 1984 everything became too much for her and she poured pipe cleaner into a half empty beer bottle on Josef’s bedside table. The next morning he was dead.

Four years later—she now had a third child from a new relationship and was regularly raped by her father-in-law she was now supposed the share a house with. Again she poured pipe cleaner into a beer bottle, this time her father-in-law’s. He spat out the sip in disgust, whereupon Margit strangled her second victim to death.

POISON

drain cleaner

VICTIM

Husband Josef & father-in-law Georg

ATTEMPT SUCCESSFUL?

yes

»BEER«, the poisonings committed by Margit Grätz — Editorial Still Life Photography »BEER«, the poisonings committed by Margit Grätz — Editorial Still Life Photography
»BUTTER CAKE«, the poisonings committed by Gesche Gottfried — Editorial Still Life Photography »BUTTER CAKE«, the poisonings committed by Gesche Gottfried — Editorial Still Life Photography

»Butter cake«

With 15 murders, Gesche Gottfried is one of the most notorious poisoners of all time. Between 1813 and 1828 she killed, among others, her parents, her two husbands, a fiancé and her children—including one-year-old Johanna, to whom she gave a piece of funeral cake (butter cake) sprinkled with mouse poison to eat after her own mother’s funeral—whom she had poisoned just days before.
A week later she killed her eldest daughter Adeline (7) in the same way.

Gesche Gottfried is the last publicly executed person in Bremen. On April 21, 1831, she was beheaded in the cathedral courtyard in front of (almost) all of the then 40,000 residents of the Northern German city for her numerous crimes.

POISON

mouse poison (arsenic)

VICTIM

15 people including her parents, husbands and children

ATTEMPT SUCCESSFUL?

yes