Intrigued by snippets of overheard conversation, fleeting images, and fragments of written language she came upon while occupying the museum, Oakley Tapola sought to preserve this ephemera and to extend the effect of her encounter with it through an installation located in the back of the Library. The artist conducted preliminary field work, spying on museum goers, listening to their conversations, and recording their interactions. For the installation, chance fragments of dialogue appear to pop up like comic strip speech bubbles that have lingered though their speakers have left the scene. Intermingling the comic and the banal – “I need a bow tie,” “Be on time,” “ I like this”- Eavesdropper encourages viewers to use their imagination to construct stories to fit these pieces in to. A small stack of chapbooks featuring collages that combine the text with photographs of situations and sites in the museum chosen for their air of mystery have also been included in the installation. As with the text fragments, the images selected for these collages have been excerpted from their original context and become floating signifiers untethered from the reality out of which they were born. With Eavesdropper, Tapola simultaneously speaks to ordinary conditions of viewership and interaction in the museum as visitors shift their attention between the art, environment and people that surround them and to operations of decoding visual and linguistic signs.

Excerpt from Eavesdropper publication: