Cindy Blažević is a Canadian-Croatian visual artist who uses photography to document private narratives within the shifting landscapes of larger social and political spaces, exploring themes of identity, authority and access. She has exhibited and taught both in Canada and Europe and has received numerous grants for her art collections and projects. Blending oral history with visual expression and employing collaborative and participative processes are key to her process. For more on Ms. Blažević’s past projects, see: http://cindyblazevic.com
Project: Through A Prison System, Darkly: Criminal Justice Through the Lens of Kingston Penitentiary
As Osgoode’s inaugural Artist in Residence, Cindy Blažević photographed Kingston Penitentiary, the birthplace of the federal correctional system, after it closed its doors in 2013. "Seeing KP at the end of its life, without prisoners, allows us to see artifacts of lives lived within the building as well as the inherent limitations not only of this particular institution, but of any prison," she said.
In order to better contextualize the photographs and what they might mean to different viewers, Blažević then collaborated with upper-year law students to create a legal and historical narrative for those images, focusing on the challenges facing the Canadian penal system.
The result is the photo-based artwork Through A Prison System, Darkly: Criminal Justice Through the Lens of Kingston Penitentiary, which appears on kingpen.osgoode.yorku.ca.
For the exhibition, a 600-square-foot installation of the photograph Colonialism, Continued 2013, was wrapped around the exterior of the Law School's east-facing glass structure. The image, which is on view until March 2016, is an illustration of a Plains-style teepee superimposed onto a photo of a small, enclosed prison yard – a place where Indigenous cultural practices would often take place inside Kingston Pen. The image references the problematic relationship between Aboriginals and the justice system, as well as systemic problems that have their roots in colonialism and its implementation of residential schools.
The following URL links directly to an audio narration by Jeffery Hewitt LLB’96, General Counsel to Chippewas of Rama First Nation who served as a McMurtry Visiting Clinical Fellow at Osgoode in 2013-14. Hewitt was one of 11 stakeholders interviewed for Blažević’s project.
The removal of a payphone from the wall during the decommissioning process leaves behind a rectangular outline. A list of phone numbers for outreach organizations and a bilingual sign warning inmates their calls may be recorded remain.