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Darren O'Donnell

  • Msci Urban Planning
  • Artistic and Research Director
  • Mammalian Diving Reflex
  • 6PublicationsNumber of items in Darren's My Publications folder on Mendeley.
  • 9ReadersNumber of instances of Darren's publications in Mendeley libraries. Updated daily.


+ Darren O’Donnell + Mammalian Diving Reflex + + The Tendency Group + The Torontonians + Darren O’Donnell is a novelist, essayist, playwright, director, designer, performer, Artistic Director of Mammalian Diving Reflex, Research Director of The Tendency Group, an emerging think tank and social policy laboratory and co-founder of The Torontonians. His books include: Social Acupuncture, which argues for an aesthetics of civic engagement and Your Secrets Sleep with Me, a novel about difference, love and the miraculous. His best-known work is Haircuts by Children, which was first created in collaboration with the children of Parkdale Public School in 2006. In addition to his artistic practice, he is currently an Msci candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto. Mammalian Diving Reflex is a research-art atelier dedicated to investigating the social sphere, always on the lookout for contradictions to whip into aesthetically scintillating experiences, producing one-off events, theatre-based performance, videos, installation, theoretical texts and community happenings. Company members range in age from 13 to over 80 years old. Past work includes: Nuit Market, Eat the Street, Haircuts by Children, The Children’s Choice Awards, Slow Dance With Teacher, A Suicide-Site Guide to the City, Monster Makers, The Best Sex I’ve Ever Had and Old Women Shooting Guns. Mammalian Diving Reflex’s work has been presented around the world in Austin, Birmingham, Bologna, Brisbane, Brussels, Calgary, Chicago, Cleveland, Cork, Derry, Edmonton, Greensboro, Kitchener, Lahore, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Milan, Mumbai, Montreal, Newcastle, New York, Norwich, Oldenburg, Oslo, Ottawa, Perth, Portland, Regina, Stockholm, Sydney, Tasmania, Terni, Toronto, Trondheim, Vancouver and Victoria. The Tendency Group is an emerging think tank and social policy laboratory with three initial, but still fluid, intentions: 1) To develop community consultation techniques that acknowledge that oftentimes a community needs to be built before it can be consulted. 2) To develop affordable housing that includes the ongoing participation of artists who utilize social relations as material and whose vocation is the fortification and strengthening of the social sphere. 3) To include children in the urban planning process in a meaningful and material way, with input that is actually applied and implemented. The Torontonians: Initiated by Sanjay Ratnan and cofounded with O’Donnell, The Torontonians are a Parkdale-based art collective ranging in age from 13-45, working as a division of Mammalian Diving Reflex. They create performance, give lectures, make videos, dance on the street, hassle drunk guys, take photographs, check cell phones, sing songs, play cellos, draw bunnies, take the TTC, ride bmx and do volunteer hours.

Recent publications

  • Permission Granted: A Case Study of the Challenges and Opportunities of Creating Community Experiences at the Gladstone Hotel

    • Bronstein N
    • O'Donnell D
    • Welter-Nolan B
    • et al.
    Get full text
  • [boxhead]

    • O'Donnell D

Professional experience

Artistic and Research Director

Mammalian Diving Reflex

October 1993 - Present



University of Toronto

September 2010 - Present

Co-authors (3)

  • Harry Logan
  • nayara benatti
  • Louis Vilardo
  • Kio Stark
  • Saul Albert

Other IDs