Irena Giedraitienė (b. 1935) is a Lithuanian based photographer. She studied Industrial and Civil Construction at Kaunas Technical Institute in 1959 and is a member of Lithuanian Photographers Association. She has taken part in more than 50 solo shows and 40 group shows in Lithuania and more than 90 exhibitions abroad. Giedraitinė's photographs selected from her extensive archive depict the state of women workers in Soviet Lithuania, and she has photographed both women and men of various professions. Often made as commissioned reportage, her images can be perceived as an ideological tool, which give a broader perspective to the theme of woman's work and reveal the situation in Soviet times. Her work is in the collection of photography museums locally and internationally, such as the Photography Museum, Šiauliai, Lithuania, International Museum of Photography, Catalonia, Spain, French Museum of Photography, Bievres, France, and also at International Centre of Photography, New York, USA.


Labourers. Greenhouse factory. Vilnius.

In the series Labourers. Greenhouse factory. Vilnius (1975), Giedraitienė captured women working in hangar-sized greenhouses. The images reflect Soviet working life, where the ideological demands for positivity and glorification of the socialist regime are balanced out by the natural appearance and vitality of the people portrayed. Under Soviet occupation, what were once family smallholdings in Lithuania were converted to vast state-run industrial greenhouses, where efficiency and productivity are prioritised over allowing those who worked the land to enjoy a close connection with it. The images represent the binary nature of Soviet feminism – a suggestion of gender equality in the public sphere while denying the right to freedom in private life. To not believe in the gender equality that was postulated by the official power meant exposing oneself to danger. Attempts to overcome this trauma, which is rooted in the ambivalent attitude towards gender equality inherited from the Soviet period, is a crucial aspect of contemporary feminist discourse in the Baltic and East European region.