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Mare Liberum, In Which We Draw A People’s Map of the Don River Valley…, 2020-2022

A person sitting a canoe on Lake Ontario
Top image caption: Mare Liberum, In Which We Draw a People's Map of the Don River Valley..., 2020-2022 Photo: Mare Liberum

Mare Liberum, In Which We Draw A People’s Map of the Don River Valley..., 2020-2022

Together with local collaborators, New York-based art collective Mare Liberum is exploring the relationship between Toronto’s Lower Don River, its constituents, and visioning plans for the future of the watershed. Over the coming months, Mare Liberum will explore issues around urban watershed systems, Indigenous waterways and land relationships, access and the role of art in policy-making in a collaborative work that explores the many ways of engaging a river with a complex history and future.  

The project will unfold in summer 2021 through a series of workshops around the design and build of boats made specifically for Toronto’s Don River – a questionably navigable waterway – and to explore its connection to Lake Ontario. Audiences will be invited to engage in dialogues around the river and watersheds, and the project will culminate in the launch of a website/AR tool and publication developed from crowd-sourced narratives of the ways in which the public physically get themselves to and interact with the river.

Over the past 6 months, Mare Liberum has been leading ongoing research and engaging collaborators in conversations related to urban waterways. In July 2020, Mare Liberum hosted a public talk called Artist as Policy Shaper which convened artists, writers, thinkers and policy makers to reflect on recent art and policy collaborations. 

Listen to the recording here.

These exploratory conversations are part of the process as they lead up to the collaborative boat building workshops this summer.  

The project is presented in partnership between Waterfront Toronto’s Temporary Public Art Program, and Evergreen’s Public Art Program.  

This project is made possible through generous support from ArtworxTO and the Canada Council for the Arts. 


Mare Liberum is a collective of visual artists, designers, and writers who formed around a shared engagement with the world’s waterways in 2007. As part of a mobile, interdisciplinary, and pedagogical practice, the collective has designed and built boats, published broadsides, essays, and books, invented water-related art and educational forums, and collaborated with diverse institutions in order to produce public talks, collaborative exhibitions, participatory works, and voyages. Mare Liberum has presented work at the Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, the Parrish Art Museum, MASS MoCA, the Neuberger Museum, and EFA Project Space, among others. The collective is Jean Barberis, Dylan Gauthier, Ben Cohen, Stephan von Muehlen, Arthur Poisson, Sunita Prasad, and Kendra Sullivan


Waterfront Toronto is the public advocate and steward of waterfront revitalization. Created by the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto, Waterfront Toronto is mandated to deliver a revitalized waterfront. Waterfront Toronto’s permanent Public Art Program commissions artworks as an integral part of the neighbourhoods they build. A new Temporary Public Art Program was recently created in order to respond to pressing contemporary social issues and reshape how we view our physical and social environments.