Fifty women who disappeared off the streets of Vancouver’s lower east side may be gone, but the haunting memory of their lives that most tried to ignore live loud and clear.

A Roomful of Missing Women is a bone-chilling yet captivating look at the reality of life in the shadows, and is human condition artist Betty Kovacic’s tribute to the memory of the missing women, most of whom were victims of what she calls “survival sex.”

“The reality of their lives does not make them any less significant than anyone else, and it is my really strong belief that people, regardless if we understand their lifestyle, need to be kept safe.”


The exhibit, which takes up an entire room in the basement of the Stanley Milner Library, runs through the course of The Works, which ends Wednesday.

For six years, the Prince George native created images of 50 missing women, some of whom have been found dead, but most of whom seem to have completely disappeared.

“All of a sudden, it hit me that they’ll never get a chance to realize the dreams that other people had.”
Paintings of the women line the room, their eyes staring inward to 50 dangling blow-up dolls, shrouded in black cloaks, wearing sashes with childhood dreams scrawled in gold, to signify importance.

“Fifty represent their physical reality, and the dreams are dreams of women, including ones involved in survival sex and women who were related to some of the (missing),” Kovacic said.

“Sex dolls are a perfect symbol for society’s objectification of the women to unfeeling, unlovely, unreal, disposable objects. I thought, somehow, we need to connect the fact that these people we see here are just the same as we are.”

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