Next generation statements

CoLab for international peace, from 5 October 2023

Sasha Zaitseva, © Photo: Christian Kain

From the technology enthusiast's garage to the inventor's laboratory and the artist's studio, sites of creativity have invariably offered fascinating glimpses into human innovation. The 170 m2 studio in the refurbished basement at the headquarters of the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of these cherished sites. The aim is to provide a space for collaborative practices at the interface between art and science: where creativity and contemporary discourse meet, encouraging reflection on the issues that will shape the future. Next-generation artists will be invited to realise their works during studio residencies with scientists as mentors. The results of this collaboration will be displayed in a series of exhibitions entitled "Next generation statements."

The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations underpin the alternating themes selected at the interdisciplinary studio, which regularly hosts art and innovation projects. In light of recent events, the series kicks off with "CoLab for international peace", a presentation by emerging artists from eastern Europe whose works focus on the fragile human condition, against the backdrop of burgeoning nationalist tendencies and the experience of war in Europe, with its devastating effects on stability, security and prosperity (UN SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions). To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the Ukrainian artist Sasha Zaitseva (*1994 in Donetsk, UA) was the first to be invited to create a site-specific installation during a short-term residency at the studio.

Recently acquired for the EPO collection, works by Sasha Zaitseva, Lada Nakonechna (*1981 in Dnipropetrovsk, UA) and Flo Kasearu (*1985 in Pärnu, EE) explore themes of conflict and invasion, the shifting and overstepping of territorial boundaries, migration and forced displacement. The artists, all of whom are personally affected, also process the experience of traumatised societies, as well as collective feelings of disorientation and fear that have arisen in the wake of a new war in Europe. At the same time, they try to prepare the way for some form of reconciliation through art and give expression to hopes for a brighter, more peaceful future. In doing so, the artists reiterate the significance of peace, stability, tolerance and international understanding. In this respect and in the context of the 50th anniversary of the EPC, the EPO's own history is significant too, rooted as it is in an international consensus surrounding peace and a strong commitment to the values of a technologically advanced society. Further, the artworks do not only carry an urgent relevance in light of current political events. The fact that they were produced between 2016 and 2019 also emphasises the visionary power of art.

Sustainable development is not just a central leitmotif of the exhibition series either; the interior design concept also aims to meet the need to re-use resources, in the form of furniture from all chapters of the EPO's history. An industrial look meets flea-market flair – accordingly, chrome and leather chairs from the EPO's Le Fleuron restaurant are combined with height-adjustable desks that are still used in patent examiners' offices. Original cabinets, fitted cupboards and conference tables from when the Isar headquarters first opened feature alongside leather sofas from our PschorrHöfe buildings, while iconic 1960s armchairs from the Vienna office appear alongside new design classics by Arne Jacobsen, Geoffrey Harcourt and Eero Saarinen. This fusion of old and new, which also creates a space of collective memory for staff, continues into the adjoining open storage and co-working areas. The contemporary colour scheme chosen for the carpets and fabrics incorporates shades of green, in keeping with the concept of sustainability, (re)creating a visual axis that extends to the plants in the courtyard and (re)connects the building with nature.