Xenia Lesniewski’s “Best Before End” comes to Norway to look at fear culture and the future. The exhibition shows off an interdisciplinary artistic approach to dealing with “the end of the world”. The artist critically explores so-called “prepper culture” by preparing a panic room. The setting of a panic room, its architecture, and its significance is explored humorously confronting existential threats to human existence.
The trend of “prepping” cannot be separated from the threat of nuclear war, hyperinflations after the collapse of the global banking system, and natural disaster. The movement of so-called preppers or survivalists wants to be prepared for the end of the “world as we know it”. Preppers are “ready at all times” seeing themselves as responsible for crises prevention.
Lesniewski’s take over of both the en plein air gallery and the cellar gallery at MLAG plays with hidden doorways giving access to a survivalist bunker. The exhibition visually, and physically pushes the audience to consider the limitations of mitigating and coping with catastrophe.
Xenia Lesniewski’s artist practice creates an immersive world with a playful approach to installation, role-play, painting and scenography. The Vienna-based artist uses conceptually interrelated pieces and performative actions over one discrete artwork. The German term Gesamtkunstwerk, roughly translates as a "total work of art" and describes an artwork, design, or creative process where different art forms are combined to create a single cohesive whole. The gesamtkunstwerk tradition is an important tenant of Art Nouveau or Jugenstil. The immersive nature of the exhibition asks the public to find the Apocolypto bar. The new work at MLAG might be seen as an extension of Lesniewski’s earlier work “Instant Solutions” (2021). Dealing with the psychology of fear, the artist creates an architectural intervention that comfortably, gets us thinking about discomfort. The exhibition at its heart takes a humanist position offering the bunker as a space for solidarity.
With grace, Lesniewski materializes our search for meaning in the face of neoliberal values set on consumption at any cost and planetary destruction. The work promises a creative solution for natural disaster offering a shelter for the body and mind.
Curated by Michael Laundry