To be extra-terrestrial, or extra-earth, might imply excess or spillover from the earthly, being expelled from Terra, or the desire to leave the Earth altogether. It might invoke fears or excitement of greeting an alien other to Earth, or perhaps instead reveal fantasies of being able to leave a damaged Earth behind and become oneself extra-terrestrial. Alongside these fantasies that imagining the ET might harbor, it also reckons with loss and grief; the theme inherently interrogates the possibility of extinction, climate change, toxic ecologies, and the Anthropocene. It reconsiders questions of identity and belonging, what it might mean to be more-than terra or to have certain qualities considered as ’alien‘ in terms of nation or citizenship, as well as ’extra’ or un-usable, not-valued (by whom or by what?), or in the recent popular sense, ‘extra’ as excess, the dramatic over-the-top. Many of these provocations of the extra-terrestrial will draw on feminist and queer legacies of science fiction in philosophy, the sciences, literature, film, TV, and the arts. Each artist and theorist in the event imagines speculative practices towards radically different and just futures free of capitalist, racist, fascist, ableist, carceral, homophobic, transphobic, and other forms of connected structural oppressions.

WRITING LETTERS TO EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS is a three-day series of hybrid online and in-person events at the ICI Berlin and the Technische Universität Berlin that focuses attention on the promises, dangers, and ambiguities of communicating with extraterrestrials and being ourselves ’extraterrestrial‘. The interrogation of the epistolary mode and other traditionally non-academic modes of writing in the name of expression, or coming to know the world outside-of-oneself (if such a distinction can be drawn), hopes to gain access into experiences of otherness and ways of navigating radical difference both real and imagined. Invited participants include performance, film, visual and sound artists, writers, theorists, activists, and scientists to be in conversation in a multi-disciplinary and multi-format event.

In English

17:00-18:30 Berlin/CET/UTC+1 In-person only event
The Owl House Watches: A Hauntological Walking Tour led by COVEN BERLIN

Through paranormal activity reports and measurements around Berlin’s Südliche Friedrichstadt, queer art collective COVEN BERLIN writes a deeply personal and cathartic letter to their alien ex-partners. COVEN opens up about their personal, emotional, sexual, romantic, and spiritual relationship with the ‘Hot Alien Cruisers’, and their dismay at their space-bound departure. Through it all, the urban landscape of the Kiez transformed into a queer and feminist cosmovision full of haunts and ghouls, as real as they are invisible.

Meeting Point: Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz
More information, registration and accessibility details:
External Venue: The Owl House

19:30 Berlin/CET In-person only event
Public screenings and opening reception
External Venue: diffrakt

11:30-14:30 Berlin/CET In-person only event
Making Contact with Deeper Times
Workshop led by Adriana Knouf

14:30-16:00 Break

16:00 Berlin/CET
7:00 am PST
10:00 am EST
Irina Gheorghe: Foreign Language for Beginners (online)
Alison Sperling: Welcome and Introductions (ICI Berlin)

17:00 Berlin/CET
Edna Bonhomme: Planet of the Plagues (online)
Regina Kanyu Wang: A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto (online)
Simon(e) van Saarloos: Addressee Unknown (online)

Followed by a discussion with Edna Bonhomme, Regina Kanyu Wang, and Simon/e van Saarloos, moderated by Alison Sperling

19:00-19:30 Break

19:30 Berlin/CET In-person and online

Margaret Rhee: Considering Poetry Machines – Letters to Future Readers (ICI Berlin)
Ashon T. Crawley: Letter to a Friend (online)

Followed by a discussion with Margaret Rhee & Ashon T. Crawley, moderated by M. Ty

21:00 Meetup
and/or late dinner for interested participants and attendees

Please note: Attending the entire day is possible with registration, all events will be in-person and online (except for the evening event)

14:00-15:30 Berlin/CET
5:00-6:30 am PST
8:00-9:30 am EST

Alison Sperling: Welcome back and Introductions
Mary Maggic: We Are All Living in the Estroworld (ICI Berlin)
COVEN BERLIN: The Year of the Bog: Bogs as Queer Metaphors (ICI Berlin)

Followed by a discussion between Mary Maggic and COVEN BERLIN, moderated by COVEN BERLIN

15:30-16:00 Break

16:00-17:15 Berlin/CET
Jenna Sutela: nimiia cétii (online)
Emilija Škarnulytė: t ½ (online)

Followed by a discussion with Jenna Sutela and Emilija Škarnulytė, moderated by Özgün Eylül İşcen

17:15-17:30 Break

17:30-18:30 Berlin/CET In-person event
Letters to Extraterrestrials
A Discussion with Adriana Knouf and Alison Sperling (ICI Berlin)

18:30 – 19:30 Break

19:30 – 21:00 Berlin/CET
Juliana Huxtable (online)
Followed by a Q & A moderated by Edna Bonhomme (online)

21:00 Berlin/CET
Closing remarks with any speakers present
Followed by a reception for registered participants


Edna Bonhomme
diffrakt | zentrum für theoretische peripherie
Ashon T. Crawley
Irina Gheorghe
Juliana Huxtable
Adriana Knouf
Mary Maggic
Margaret Rhee
Simon(e) van Saarloos
Emilija Škarnulytė
Jenna Sutela
Regina Kanyu Wang

Organized by

Alison Sperling
An ICI Event organized in cooperation with TU Berlin ZIFG and IPODI Initiative, CoFutures/Science Fictionality at the University of Oslo, and the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw.

External Venues

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

17:00-18:30 Berlin/CET/UTC+1 In-person only event
The Owl House (Kreuzberg Tower and Wings)
Please register at and present a vaccination record or a negative COVID test.

19:30 Berlin/CET In-person only event
diffrakt – zentrum für theoretische peripherie
Crellestraße 22, 10827 Berlin
Please register at and present a vaccination record or a negative COVID test.

KV Writing Letters to Extraterrestrials

Image credit © Design Studio Bens with an image by Adriana Knouf