"The Forgotten"-Art About Missing, Murdered Women Banned by Museum of Anthropology

Vancouver artist Pamela Masik’s exhibition of work dealing with “The Forgotten” which depicts 69 local missing or murdered women has been censored by the UBC Museum of Anthropology. From this article:
“The museum’s director, Anthony Shelton, said he made the decision because he fears the exhibition will cause “further distress” to family and friends of the women.
The 69 portraits, each nearly three metres tall, are the work of Vancouver–based artist Pamela Masik and were to be installed at the museum on the University of British Columbia campus in February.
Masik said while she respected the museum’s decision, she is not sure how cancelling the exhibition will help confront the issue of missing women who are treated by society as inconsequential.
In a prepared statement, Masik said she is saddened by what she sees as society’s continuing refusal to acknowledge what happened to the women.”

0 thoughts on “"The Forgotten"-Art About Missing, Murdered Women Banned by Museum of Anthropology

  1. “rendered invisible because of race, class, gender”
    and now because of the deep cowardice of the museum. Are the women any less missing if we don’t see their faces? Are their families and friends able to forget and move on as long as they never have to see their faces again? And what does this say about whether it matters if women go missing when another misogynist psychopath goes on a killing spree?
    What absolute total bullshit. Thankfully we have the web and this can get an far larger audience, with all this context, too.
    Thank you for posting about this incredible artist’s work and the documentary video. It must have been deeply emotional for her, yet she was able to push through and create this powerful statement. I like how they did the video – close-up on her face or her subject or objects, but not voyeuristic about the people on the streets around her. It feels respectful of the people she’s talking about.

  2. Thanks Noan. I thought it confounding that such a memorial was censored. I wonder if there were similar objections or criticisms towards the AIDS Quilt or other memorials where images of remembrance are rendered artistically. There may be valid discussions to be had around that after the work is exhibited. But to actually cancel the installation before it provokes the very conversation the artist intended? Total bullshit.

  3. I think the exhibit was intended to cause “distress” – the good kind one.
    I once saw an an exhibition of Polish theatrical posters, some dating back to WW2. Besides the fact they were technically wonderful (illustration as an art has been dead here even before Warhol), they were positively disturbing. Faces morphing into skulls, an arlequin made of flesh, a steak perfectly cut to resemble a human face, beautiful actresses morphing into dust. The most impressive part however was the exhibition inside a gorgeous, totally dark and silent church: in the centre of it there were 4 simple wooden chairs, with dirty, bloodsoaked bandages put together as to resemble a human silhouette. The composite picture was both gorgeous, minimalistic and petrifying in some weird ancestral way. I kneeled down to the floor and prayed to something, the first time in my life I ever did that.
    Ultimately I think all those works of art were inspired by the atrocities Poland had to suffer in WW2. Censoring them and painting rainbows and happy green fields instead IS CENSORING HISTORY AND ITS VICTIMS. Same thing with the missing women, except that some might still even be alive! This is a massive act of malignity and cowardice.

    1. Your description was so vivid- makes me want to go look at some art. You are a really good writer. I agree with what you said about the exhibit. Sadly the art world is very political- and not in the good way- especially museums. I would bet five dollars it was the fact that the artist took it upon herself to create the project independently that people took fault with. That it’s one woman’s vision. People like their memorials to be community driven, not interpreted by one uppity woman.

  4. Thanks Gallus, I couldn’t watch the video as a whole because it made me cry (SISSY!). (I have to nitpick about one thing: the portraits weren’t that good-looking, but considering everything else it’s excusable). It’s very hard now for a single artist to “break” in the art world if they have an original idea (pomo is after all an endless rehash of itself). Take a look at the works of Henry Darger, an impoverished janitor with a crazy Christian-oriented vision involving a little raped girl saving the world: his works are “primitive” yet more breath-taking than any pea can (I am peaphobic after all lol). They were discovered only when he died. I think the true artist doesn’t care at all about popularity…doing pictures is a primal drive, not superfluous popular “art for art’s sake” (I think the whole concept of “art” was an invention anyway. African and Asian “artists” didn’t have an analoguous term for it).

    1. It’s hard to tell what the portraits look like- they’re supposed to have all sorts of little things and messages in them up close, and stitching and whatnot. Yes, Darger is a trip. Wolfli. I’ve had the pleasure of viewing some of their work.

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