our mission 关于我们
The Chinese Artists and Organizers Collective (CAO) creates art as a form of organizing and (re)building a sustainable community. Our practice is rooted in China, the Sinophone diaspora, and every life experience in between. We make art to organize and support social justice movements, collective healing and empowerment, and systemic change. We make space for political conversations and community-oriented art in solidarity with other marginalized communities.
our name 我们的名字
Our Chinese name, 离离草 Li Li Cao, comes from a line of poem by the poet 白居易 Bai Juyi from the Tang dynasty. The poem is called 赋得古原草送别 A Poem for Sending Off a Friend on the Wild Field:
Grass thriving in the field, they die and flourish every year. The wildfire cannot burn it all; when wind blows in the spring, they will come back alive. (Translation by CAO)
The word 离 Li also means “to leave” or “to be apart.” It is part of the word 离散 Li San, diaspora. Our members are geographically scattered so we are often apart. We arrive to converge and then leave again. We and other Chinese and Sinophone communities look out for each other. We are diasporic but not separate.
Our acronym in English, CAO, is a play on the pronunciation of 草 Cao, or grass, in Chinese. It is also a homonym of a popular and censored curse word and used as a creative way to express often-dismissed and erased complaints as well as an oppressed rage.
”离“字也意味着“离散”。我们的成员常驻地不一，常有相聚和别离。我们与彼此，以及和世界各地的中国和华语社群相互守望，离散却不分离。我们的英文缩略名CAO是Chinese Artists and Organizers “中国创作者和组织者”的缩略，也取其和“草”同音之意。在中文互联网上，“草”被作为骂人话和语气词来使用，作为一种在我们的声音经常被边缘化、被抹除的时候，躲避审查来发表抱怨、批判，表达愤怒的方式。
Whether you are an artist, an organizer, or someone who cares about art and social justice, we would love to work with you on projects, workshops, and events. We welcome voices from communities of color, LGBTQ communities, disabled communities and other activist communities. We welcome genuine questions and thoughts to start urgent conversations.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org