CATHERINE ZITA DIAS
Catherine Zita Dias was born and raised in Toronto, where she uses her passion for the arts to explore social issues in her city. Through various mediums, her work addresses poignant subjects such as oppression, social injustice and dust. A graduate of the arts and culture program at Monseigneur de-Charbonnel, Catherine currently attends the School of Creative Industries at Ryerson University.
The System is a commentary on the erosion of individual identities within the judicial system. In applying David Campany’s concept of “dustiness,” I analyze the dehumanization of inmates who are worn down and institutionalized, eventually resembling the eroded stone walls they call home.
The historic Don Jail in Toronto, is one of the oldest pre-confederation buildings and the site of the last execution in Canada. The prison shut down in 1977 due to overcrowding. Designed in the Renaissance Revival Style, the architecture of the Don Jail was based on the panopticon concept of creating fear in prisoners.1 I therefore aim to create subtle images which evoke entrapment and fatalism. In prison, people are shut away from society, they rot in small cells, their stagnant existence turns them back to dust. Like sands shifting through an hourglass, their lives slip away, their identities erased as they blend into a mass of forgotten souls.
I arranged the photographs in a seemingly chronological order. The series starts with a vibrant photo outside of the jail, but ultimately leads to the gallows. The title for each photograph conveys a loss of freedom and the suggestion of decay. The majority of my photos are monochrome to portray times past and to accentuate the sombre gray of the prison. The elimination of color also helped to reduce superfluous background elements. The lack of human presence in the image captures the facelessness of all those who have passed through the prison since 1864.