Torolab : socially-concerned 'lab'

Torolab is a Tijuana-based consortium of artists, designers and musicians. It was founded in 1995 by architect and artist Raúl Cárdenas Osuna as a socially engaged 'laboratory' and is committed to residents of Tijuana and the entire trans-border region.

Among their projects is ToroVestimenta, a clothing line that equips for the hostile border environment. The multipocketed Transborder Pants, for example, provide not only a perfect fit for a Mexican passport, but also draw attention to this social reality

   Artistic Approach

Torolab, Survival unit 7.01, 2002

With a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego in June 2001, Torolab acclaimed further international interest and recognition.

Presently, the collective is preparing for the Vertex Project, an artistic re-creation of a border-crossing, to be located literally half in Mexico, half in the United States.

   Project for the Biennale

Torolab, Survival unit 7.01, 2002
Video, fabric

Torolab's proposal is about the passion for life in relation with survival, and the love for life you need to have, in order to continue living in a basic level that has to do with the relation men/ environment.

It is about the emotion of living, under the most adverse circumstances.

Our Context
Understanding that Tijuana is a region of urban interaction, of complex necessities where the solutions are never enough for ideal development.. Also understanding that violence is a factor in our everyday life, Torolab studies this context looking for solutions to these special conditions.

The Survival Unit is part of the "SOS Emergency Architecture" studies that we have been developing as an experiment of survival and urban camouflage.

Urban Survival Unit 7.01.
This unit arises from impoverished conditions that Tijuana faces, which occurs on a scale very different from the neighbour city of San Diego, because here, we have people living in extremely precarious conditions.

In San Diego, for those who lack a house, the "homeless", the city becomes their house, the city protects them. On the other hand, in Tijuana, this situation is nearly impossible due to the social and unsafe conditions.

Unit 7.01, is an individual unit to survive in a place where the surroundings are perceived from 1.20 meters of visual height from the floor, with a rank of vision from 0 to 70 degrees, at a speed of 60 km/h in which the image of the city is not recognized by the amorphous visual sequence of billboards and traffic signs.

It is there in that cloud of communication in movement, where true form of the city resides. That is why if we added another billboard would be like throwing a leaf in the forest. It becomes camouflage. 7.01 is a backpack, is a billboard, is a house and simultaneously is not none of the three. It is a unit of mobile survival, an instrument of camouflage.

This is part of a developing series, of a long-term project that tries to improve the quality of life of the people who use it.

The region of the Transborder Trousers.
Tijuana is a city formed trough movement and axis of urban connectivity. It is a region of urban interaction delimited by ranges of vehicular mobility, having clear routes of connection with entities on both sides of the border.

The transborder trousers catch this phenomena of regional movements conditioned by migratory documents.

This product, being used by a Mexican has secret pockets of security for passport and laser visa (document implemented by USA to grant access to Mexicans, with a rigorous data base of the user).

And if an American uses it, the pockets are a hidden device to have safe credit cards (not of debit like the majority of the Tijuanenses use), for medicines, picture rolls and equipment of exploration. The trousers function changes depending on the nationality of the user. All form the same region of urban interaction.



  David Blatherwick

  Cai Guo-Qiang

     & Rintala


  Marcel Dzama

  Graham Gillmore

  Betty Goodwin

  Angela Grauerholz

  Daniel Guzman

  Mathew Hale

  Anton Henning

  Cisco Jiménez


  Lux Lindner

  Corinne Marchetti

  Jorge Luis Marrero

  François Morelli

  Claudia & Julia Müller

  Alain Paiement

  Bruno Peinado

  Ed Pien

  Jean-François Prost

  John Scott

  Kiki Smith

  Siphay Southidara

  Barthélémy Toguo

  Torolab (Raúl &
     Marcela Cárdenas)

  Pablo Vargas-Lugo

  (S. Scala & S. Crispino)

  Jean-Luc Verna

  Fabien Verschaere


  Michel Iorio


  Cees Krijnen



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