Hedy Ritterman at Colour Factory Gallery

to know a veil by Hedy Ritterman at Colour Factory Gallery, 409 – 429 Gore Street, Fitzroy. Until June 30th.

Words by Nick Tapscott

Photos by J Forsyth

The back-streets of Fitzroy can be a cold and frightening space after dark, and it made me wonder if they were the inspiration for the film ‘Alien’. If I was approached by a hippy in the dark, would anyone hear me sigh indignantly? But after several twists and wrong turns, the light filled CF Gallery loomed with its industrial facade punctuated nicely with a bright open door, many expensive cars and a mature, moneyed bouquet.To know a veil is a new exhibit of photographs by the very talented and veteran photographer Hedy Ritterman. The show is an attempt to distil her years old bodies of work and crafting to hone and reduce to her true voice, a voice timbered by travel, irony, numerous cultural perspectives, a love of technology, and a warm and affectionate reverence for an analogue aesthetic.

Ritterman’s use of the space itself and her placement of certain works were orchestrated so as to intentionally draw attention to certain pieces at certain times. As I walked into the gallery the first thing I was struck by was a stunning portrait of an elderly woman descending a home’s staircase dressed only in her nightgown, but wearing jewellery and make-up. It forced me to question the nature of it’s contextuality, as the image was clearly not just a candid snap of a vulnerable elderly person. The subject’s descent hinted (at-least to my unqualified eye) at a dignity in age: A beauty which otherwise would find marginalisation at the blunted lenses of mainstream media and the muted tastes of the saturated masses. This one shot was in no-way representative of the rest of the work. Moving around the room one was presented with a series of ‘veiled’ images; shots of buildings partially obscured by transparent canvases of representations of beauty in advertising, of red lip-sticked lips transparent over bus-stops and made-up eyes peering over fences but under power lines.

The end of the room was stoppered with a work titled “Standing in ‘No Man’s Land’ by Christian Boltanski” which consisted of a multi-coloured chaos splashed via latex in print on vinyl (suitable for outdoor use)’. This re-articulation of an abstraction to a medium traditionally relegated to advertising was tonally indicative of the show’s major themes and was as aesthetically pleasing as it was thought provoking. By the time I had made it this far around the space the room was filled by an older, distinguished crowd of black clad and surgery friendly money, as the artist herself is well connected in several communities, and I’m sure I spotted several faces familiar because of the news they make and the pages in the papers they occupy (I needed to google it, but Jeanne Pratt the billionaire philanthropist was in attendance).

Breaking the chatter of the thickening crowds, a speech of finely detailing interpretation was handsomely delivered by the curator and offered rich perspectives and observations which I had otherwise overlooked. This was followed by the thankyous of the artist herself and the opportune exodus back to the blackened void of the inky Fitzroy rainy weeknight. A highly, highly recommended show to catch before it’s ending on the 30th of June. The artist herself will be in attendance on Saturdays the 16th and 23rd from 2 till 4, I know I’ll make it down to have a conversational stroll through her own interpretations.