Be Oblivion, in Disconnect
Wheat’s work is built on a strong conceptual framework that weaves together commentary on social and political issues and the radical potential for change. Be Oblivion, in Disconnect (2011) is a sculpture and an intervention. Two cardboard boxes house white neon letters that collectively have the potential to spell “Be Oblivion.” The dismembered phrase is rendered powerless in its present state; the potential power lies with the viewer, who could conceivably reconstruct it. The boxes sit on wooden pallets of the kind typically used for shipping; by painting them white and repurposing them as pedestals, Wheat removes them from circulation as carriers of commodities. The simple cardboard boxes are also discarded shipping materials.
The words “Be Oblivion” are a seeming command to fade away into obscurity. This simple phrase resonates as a harbinger of defeat. Perhaps the provocative installation is a pointed statement about our collective loss of power: in politics, commerce, war, international relations, social issues, or all of these. Wheat asks us to resurrect her jumbled phrase in our minds, contemplate it, and see if it is time for an insurrection.
Natasha Wheat’s diverse body of work explores social experience as a sensual phenomenon that is riddled with hierarchical complexity. Her objects, installations, and interventions engender and disrupt a full range of interpersonal relations. Wheat was the founder of Project Grow, an art studio and urban farming program based in Portland, Oregon, that employed developmentally disabled adults and investigated the intersection of food, ideology, society, and exchange. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA with an emphasis in social practice from California College of the Arts.