“THE GREAT INDUSTRY: “INKARAS” FACTORY”

Kaunas Picture Gallery

All the exhibited objects – unique works and mass–produced products line up on the exhibition equipment likewise the factory conveyor which is due to convey an alternative narrative about our history and identity. The story has been created together with the former employees of the “Inkaras” (Anchor) factory, artists and public activists.

As far back as the pre–war years, the historical factory of rubber products “Inkaras” in Kaunas had determined the Lithuanian identity: comfortable rubber galoshes had replaced the ancient national foot–wear known as ropes and nails. During the Soviet era, the factory supplied a deficit market in Lithuania and fraternal republics with cultish shoes by “Inkaras” thus making a dream of Western sneakers come true. The hunger strike of “Inkaras” employees in 2000 became a significant event in the era of wild privatization that accompanied the country’s Independence.

The exhibition, like its production – rubber foot–wear, invites you to pace a scarcely trodden path: to discover new colours and senses in the history of the industry – forgotten, erased, denied.

On the outside of the conveyor, a cycle of watercolours created specially for the exhibition by Edmundas Saladžius is displayed. The factory, like a strange object, immersed in a mystical landscape of the suburbs of Kaunas – Veršvai seems to provide a guarantee for a better life to the local people. A Rubber anchor of hope – the author is joking.

On the inside of the conveyor, witty comments on the factory’s production, work and leisure are transmitted with texts and photos from personal albums of the workers of “Inkaras” or their close fans from Slabodkė (slang for Kaunas district Vilijampolė).

For the first time, this exhibition has drawn the continuance of Lithuanian trade unions. It covers the events from the late 19th century up to the present day and is dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the historic “Inkaras” strike.

On the other side of the conveyor the work “Women of “Inkaras” by painter Ričardas Povilas Vaitiekūnas is installed. Here, the subject matter of the exhibition makes the emotional whole – the factory and landscape, the factory and people, the echo of their voices, their vitality on the industrial conveyor of death and survival.

The exhibition continues the cycle of research on the industrial past “The Great Industry“ initiated in 2017 by the community platform “Backup Stories“, creating a field of attention and memory for the numerous community of former historical factories.

Participants of the exhibition: “Inkaras” community, Edmundas Saladžius, Povilas Ričardas Vaitiekūnas, Saulius Leonavičius, Darius Petrulis, Raimonda Canderienė, Jurgis Valiukevičius

Curator: Auksė Petrulienė

Partner: ” Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022″

Architecture of the exhibition: “Office De Architectura” (Jautra Bernotaitė, Andrius Ropolas, Paulius Vaitiekūnas)