One of our main tenants as a “born-digital" organization is to do most things online and be kind to the planet. We don’t have an office, we try not to print things, and we ride bikes and take public transit or our own feet to get places whenever possible. Of course, we realize that a huge part of our nonprofit’s mission is to travel to and from China, which often involves taking planes… But flying isn’t the only way to get to China, and travelling by train within the country is one of the most amazing ways to see each province’s vast and varying landscapes rush by the windows.

So to share our dual love for trains and the internet, we’re launching #slowtrain residencies, where anyone taking a train to or in China can apply to take over our Instagram account and share their point of view from abroad one of China’s 121,000 km of railways.

View from the dining car, somewhere between Kunming and Chongqing, taken by Kira for @china_residencies


  • Wait, Instagram’s blocked in mainland China, right?
  • Yes, sadly, it is… There’s two ways around this: you can get a VPN on your phone, or you can send us the images or videos & captions via any other app - email, WeChat, Whatsapp, text message - and we’ll post them for you.

  • Can I post anything I want?
  • Yes, with the only caveat that you need to use the hashtag #slowtrainresidency in your posts and abide by Instagram’s community guidelines so our account doesn’t get shut down, but otherwise we have absolutely no restrictions.

  • Do I need to be a photographer?
  • Nope, you can write, make videos, perform, or even just create sound — any medium works and we encourage you to think outside of the purely visual and treat this #slowtrain residency like you would any other residency, as an opportunity to research, explore, and expand your practice.

  • Do I need to have an Instagram account?
  • Not necessarily, and you don’t have to take images with your phone either, just as long as the work is created during the train ride.

  • Who’s done this residency before?
  • Fei Liu and Francis Tseng piloted the #slowtrain residencies during our research trip in 2016, on the Kunming to Chongqing and Shanghai to Xiamen routes. Since then, Roopa Vasudevan, Annie Ling & Eugene Vladin, Alisa Yang, An Xiao Mina, BUFU, and Frog Dava Wing have all completed projects.

  • by Fei Liu aka @binaricorn

by Francis Tseng aka @frnsys