veteran women, 2007


“Veteran Women”, 2007, series of photographs 
10 pieces: b/w photographs 28 x18.5 cm

The only oil processing company, and plant, in the Baltic States, ORLEN Lietuva, Lithuania, is among the most important strategic assets in this region. In 2006 “Mažeikių nafta” was bought by the company “Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN S.A.”, a major Polish corporation (that employs over 3500 workers; and mainly Poles, Russians and Lithuanians). The series of photographs “Veteran Women” (2007) focuses on the employees of this company. The photographs represent veteran women employees of “ORLEN Lietuva” who have worked for the company for at least 20 years. They were photographed during the celebration to honour the veterans held in “ORLEN Lietuva” every year: everybody who has spent many years in the company is honoured.

During the Soviet era veterans or ‘pioneers’ as they were known were credited with building the ‘Communist Future’; they used to receive letters of honour, medals, or were immortalised on honour boards. Currently homage paid to veterans within post-Soviet countries is treated ambiguously: on the one hand it is tainted by Soviet rhetoric, and on the other hand smacks of the ‘worker of the month’ strategies employed by capitalist companies to encourage productivity and profitability.