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LFQ3.3 – Escott, After the Continents Divorced

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“What can I tell you my darling,” begins a letter signed by Alicia Escott and addressed to a tiny marsupial, declared extinct in 1994. One in an ongoing series of epistles that reanimates lost species by casting them as bygone loves, it pines for a previous time: “The air was different back then, before the continent split.” InLetters Sent Sometime After the Continents Divorced, Escott uses the amorous language of heartbreak to access a loss so enormous in scale that its individual impact is ordinarily only vaguely grasped and dully felt. While the notes communicate facts about species decline, they also address ordinary and tragic forms of miscommunication. Discrepant dates and addresses suggest that they have traveled across continents and epochs only to arrive in the wrong recipient’s mailbox. Torn between timeframes—past and present, present and future—they aver that change is swift and incremental, inconspicuous until abruptly evident. Some of the species addressed in the project can be preserved only in memory and writing. Others are still present, suggesting that amid feelings of remorse and resignation, there is space for reflection and in some cases, intervention. Escott specially editioned a set of letters for Landfill QuarterlyIssue 3: “Species Being.”