The Zhelezka Project: On the Tracks through Central Asia aimed to generate a unique space for networking and developing conceptual and methodological approaches for creating new knowledge about lesser-explored and multicultural places. During two weeks (19 August - 2 September 2023) on mostly Soviet-era trains on the rails, commonly known as “zhelezka”, a group of researchers, practitioners and artists from eight countries focused on exploring life on and off the railroad by unraveling specific travel and mobility practices, documenting urban and rural landscapes, collecting stories of strangers, local communities and railroad workers in three countries of post-Soviet Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. This project was supported by the Volkswagen Foundation and administered by the Social Innovations Lab Kyrgyzstan, the American University of Central Asia, and the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography.
Zhelezka: encounters, solitude, and community in shared mobility (2023) was filmed over two weeks in summer 2023 on Soviet-era trains and metro covering around 5000km in three countries in Central Asia where the Silk Road once passed. It takes on a mundane approach to the ideas surrounding the shared mobility using public transport where the boundaries between 'private' and 'public' are blurred - from the tenderness of saying goodbyes, to the chats along the train corridors and compartment sharing, to the golden sunrise and languidness of old train rides - encouraging one to linger and observe the intangible aspects of public transport, and tease the extra-ordinary out of the ordinary, everyday mobility.