Mare Liberum: or, The Other Island

Date: 

Tue - Sun, Aug 25 to Sep 20, 10:00am - 5:00pm

Location: 

Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge

Residency + Exhibition
Aug 25-Sep 20, 2015

With "or, The Other Island," the Brooklyn-based collective Mare Liberum will transform the iconic ramp, Level 3 gallery and adjacent terrace at the Carpenter Center into a boat workshop and library, a site for a series of participatory workshops, and an installation of work relating to the collective’s multi-year inquiry into landscape, utopia, watercraft and water as a commons. 

The title of the exhibition⎯drawn from Michel Tournier’s novel Friday (1967), a retelling of Defoe's Crusoe (1719)⎯can be taken as a reference to the perilous state of the world’s low lying islands in the face of sea level rise, or a question on the state of utopian thinking in the era of human caused climate change. It is fitting as well as a nod to Le Corbusier’s designs to impose order on both nature and culture in his vision of the Carpenter Center (1963), conceived of as a “landscape within a landscape.”

On view will be a reproduction of a pedal boat designed by Pierre Jeanneret for Sukhna Lake, the heart of the urban plan Le Corbusier and Jeanneret created for Chandigarh, India. In contrast to Jeanneret’s original boat design, built in the placeless style of modernist design, the pedal boat has been modified to reference vernacular Indian boat shapes, colors, and decor borrowed from traditional wooden boats used in the Punjab region. The public will be invited to come by at any point and enter into conversations with the collective on a range of themes and practices, or take part in the building of a small boat on the ramp and terrace, which will be transformed into a workshop for a multi-day, participatory boat building session. A series of public programs with noted scholars and film screenings will accompany or, The Other Island.

As the Carpenter Center is located only a short walk from the Charles River, or, The Other Island will examine the history of water and boats in the context of Le Corbusier’s vision and architecture, while orienting the overall project around discussions of oceanic ecosystems and sea level rise⎯and its potential effects on Boston’s low lying neighborhoods. 


Mare Liberum is a collective of visual artists, designers, and writers who formed around a shared engagement with New York’s waterways in 2007. As part of a mobile, interdisciplinary, and pedagogical practice, we have 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, participatory works, and voyages as platforms to catalyze societal change. 

In 2015–17, Mare Liberum will embark on a longform research and participatory art project, Water Rites. Engaging with multiple sites, Water Rites enters into dialogue with river and watershed communities threatened by sea level rise, the encroachment of extreme energy industries, micro-plastics pollution, depleted fish and wildlife stores, water acidification, and climate change.  

Mare Liberum has presented work at Bureau for Open Culture at MASS MoCA, Neuberger Museum, Maker Faire, the PsyGeoConflux Festival, The New School, Boston Center for the Arts, EFA Project Space, Smack Mellon, Alexandraplatz, and the Antique Boat Museum, and has been written about in Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, Bad at Sports, The Village Voice, and Vice Magazine, among others. 

The collective is currently made up of Jean Barberis, Benjamin Cohen, Dylan Gauthier, Sunita Prasad, Kendra Sullivan and Stephan von Muehlen


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