If you read this for the next few minutes, when done , remember there are “the forgotten” all around us.
The Forgotten is a collection of 69 portraits of women who disappeared from the Vancouver’s downtown eastside by Pamela Masik. The collection was recently featured during the Vancouver Winter Olympics as part of VANOC’s Cultural Olympiad.
We won’t be the first to say that art can be society’s conscience or barometer, that is far from an original statement but Masik’s portraits are moving and why she did is just as compelling.
“I believe that because these women were of high risk groups and of marginalized communities, they were already forgotten – they did not exist in society’s eyes,” Masik explains in a statement on her site. “I believe it is our collective responsibility to empower individuals of these groups to heal and grow, and live a self-sustaining, healthy lifestyle… We all deserve the right to a dignified life.”
Masik adds that the disappearance of these women is not just a Vancouver problem. If you doubt that, have you ever spared a second glance to the missing persons posters in your local Walmart?
I have and at times after coming home, I’ve searched the names I can remember to see what traces of that missing person’s life exists. Simply, those faces are someone’s son, daughter, friend, mother or father who have vanished.
Does my search bring them closer to being found? No. Does Masik’s portraits solve the mystery of those missing Vancouver women? No. What either does do is remind us that it can happen to any of our loved ones, or a colleague or the grocery clerk who rings through your milk and cookies.
Masik painted the three-metre high portraits from missing person posters and does not sign her name but the name of the missing person on each portrait.
Learning about The Forgotten may not help you change the world but it will help you remember that just because we have invisible people in society it does not mean they should be forgotten.