News / Vancouver

The Exhibition examines the dark world of Robert Pickton, and one artist’s journey

It took six years for documentarian Damon Vignale to create The Exhibition, a film that aims to capture one of the darkest moments in Canadian history.

The film, recently awarded the PBS Frontline Award for being fair and engaging, focuses on Pamela Masik, an artist who in 2007 stirred controversy when she painted 69 faces representing the missing women all associated at one time with the trial of serial killer Robert Pickton.

 Artist Pamela Masik at her studio in Vancouver.

Artist Pamela Masik at her studio in Vancouver.

“The film for me was always about starting a conversation,” Vignale told Metro. “It’s about bringing some sort of awareness about what happened, showing who these women were, why they were on the street, and society’s responsibility in that.”

But for a story that happened in Vancouver years ago, Vignale sadly still sees it as relevant today.

“Unfortunately, it’s Canada’s largest serial murder case in history, and equally unfortunate women still go missing today,” he said. “So it’s a topic that’s still relevant. As we talk today on the east coast the Mohawk nation is protesting against missing and murdered women.”

The idea to capture the entirety of Pickton’s trial spawned when Vignale made a trip to Masik’s art studio.

He was wandering around the gallery when he saw large faces peer out from the back, so he asked if he could check them out.

“I was just really struck by them,” he said. “You look at these paintings and you start to ask questions.”

The film itself has made its way around the world premiering in festivals in Chicago, Portland and Toronto, but it has yet to make its Vancouver debut.

“It has documented a significant part of Vancouver’s history,” Vignale said. “Unfortunately, it’s a black mark, but important none the less, and maybe it will screen there one day, but it’s been a sore spot for a lot of people.”

More on