Part of a Brief History of the Sunset; Xerces Blue
A Brief History of the Sunset: is an ongoing site-specific project made in response to the location of the artists studio, in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. The basis of the project are hand rendered drawings of the extinct Xerces Blue Butterfly on plastic air pillows.
PART OF A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUNSET was a functional online e-commerce shop though amazon.com. As part of the Bay Area Now 7 Clinic series, audience members were able to "buy" Part of a Brief History of the Sunset for $0.00.
The package arrived at their doorstep in the form of an empty amazon box, inside it was carefully painted white with a single packing pillow. On separate sides of the pillow (never able to touch) were drawn a mating pair of the extinct butterflies.
Escott began collecting the air pillows as a playful response to flow of material goods into her home as her domestic partner started buying more and more things on Amazon.com.
Around the time, disillusioned by San Francisco, the artist had moved her studio to the Outer Sunset in early 2012. On researching the complex history of the place Escott learned that the area, once all dune land, had been home to a species of butterfly which likely had had a symbiotic relationship with a species of ant, also native to the area (though its fate is less well documented).
As the area of the Outer Sunset or Outerlands became inhabited, and non-native ant species replaced native, disturbing the symbiotic relationship the Xerces Blue butterfly became an iconic figure of extinction. The first recorded butterfly extinction in North America. The last recoded sighting occurring in 1943.
Escott likens this repurposing of habitat to the contemporary climate of the city as it undergoes a period of rapid change. Implicating herself as an artist having moved to the area as a part of the larger process of gentrification.
As with much of her work this project is a meditation on the experience of loss on both the personal and collective scales.