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TX-1 (2020)

The enchanting Earth is too-often made inhospitable to those marked as transgender. To survive we xenomogrify ourselves through social and biological technologies, altering our surfaces, our viscera, our molecular balances. None of us have been to space even if we possess somatic knowledges of deep bodily transformations, experiences that are necessary for extraterrestrial environments.

TX-1 launched bits of my hormone replacement medications to the International Space Station (ISS), marking the first-known time that elements of the transgender experience orbited the Earth. TX-1 includes a fragment of my spironolactone pill, a slice of my estradiol patch, and a miniature handmade paper sculpture, included to gesture towards the absent-yet-present xenoentities of the cosmos. A symbolic exodus to an orbit high above, the return of TX-1 to Earth was also a sign of resilience, of not being disposed of, of coming back to thrive once again.

TX-1 flew to the ISS as part of Sojourner 2020 of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, which provided the launch opportunity to nine artist-groups selected from an international open call. You truly never go to space alone.

While space is, in many ways, one of the most inhospitable places for life, it simultaneously holds an aura—naïve, perhaps—as a place of transformation where the usual constraints of life on earth can be refashioned, where those who are tranxxeno can exist without earthly prejudices. Some early trans* activism even expressed desires for connection with extraterrestrial beings, suggesting kinship predicated on being seen as alien. Such cosmological allies thus evince the yearning for acceptance of the Other. These stories that we tell about space are of course simultaneously stories that we tell about earth, and thus TX-1, in line with this earlier activism, manifests a dream of acceptance of the tranxxeno as we move through these transitioning times.



Adriana Knouf, PhD (NL/US) works as an artist, writer, and xenologist. She engages with topics such as wet media, space art, satellites, radio transmission, non-human encounters, drone flight, queer and trans futurities, machine learning, the voice, and papermaking. She is the Founding Facilitator of the tranxxenolab, a nomadic artistic research laboratory that promotes entanglements among entities trans and xeno. Adriana regularly presents her artistic research around the world and beyond, including a work that has flown aboard the International Space Station. Her work has been recognized by a number of awards, including an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica (2021), an Honorary Mention from the Science Fiction Research Association’s Innovative Research Award, and as a prize winner in The Lake’s Works for Radio #4 (2020).


Headshot photo credit: Christian Brems

Work photos credit: Adriana Knouf