June 22, 2001

Museum of Contemporary Art, Highlights Work of Tijuana Design Consortium Torolab in Exhibition at MCA Downtown

On view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego's downtown location July 1 through September 25, 2001 is Torolab: Laboratorio of the Future in the Present, organized by MCA Curator Toby Kamps. This exhibition brings together for the first time in the United States the diverse works of Torolab, a Tijuana-based consortium of artists and designers whose work encompasses fine art, architecture, clothing, graphic design, and electronic music. The exhibition will feature environments, architectural models, clothing, design objects, and sound installations by architects and artists Raúl Cárdenas Osuna, founder of Torolab, his wife Marcela Guadiana Cár-denas, and various other members of the dynamic collaborative.

Torolab—its name a play on the Spanish words for laboratory and bull— was established in 1995 as a socially engaged workshop committed to examining and elevating the quality of life for residents of Tijuana and the trans-border region through a culture of ideologically advanced design.

A concrete response to social conditions in Tijuana —a booming, sprawling city of over 1.3 million only twenty minutes south of downtown San Diego— as well as a utopian quest for the "sublime in the quotidian," Torolab employs abstract art and literature as primary tools in all its projects. According to founder Raúl Cárdenas Osuna, "Torolab is born out of the necessity of discovery: forms, identity, and dialogues within our context, with the purpose of creating conditions of life, optimum quality of life (dignified) for ourselves and the people we can touch with what we do." Preferring to propose rather than protest, Torolab strives to create an optimistic conspiracy of positive design solutions.

Torolab projects include plans for a modular house for a member of the seminal rock en Español group Café Tacuba; Torovestimenta, a line of multi-purpose clothing intended as "gear for living;" a vibrant graphic design aesthetic built around the influential Nortec music movement, which blends global techno beats with traditional northern-Mexican norteño sounds; and the "Vertex Project," an ambitious plan for a revolutionary, multimedia-enhanced border crossing footbridge.

For their project at MCA Downtown, Torolab will engage the idea of the "Via Futura Urbana," or the Way of the Urban Future, creating three ambient spaces: a lounge featuring a bar made out of wooden shipping pallets (the raw materials of many of Tijuana's houses), an environment devoted to their unique vision of urban life, and —in the Museum's glass-walled Fay-man Gallery— a space devoted to interconnecting and enhancing the vibrant areas stretching from Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, to Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. In addition, MCA's security staff be outfitted in special "Toro Gear" clothing selected for the project.

Torolab: Laboratorio of the Future in the Present is made possible by MCA membership support, as well as generous grants from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the California Arts Council, the County of San Diego, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

For more information about Torolab, go to www.torolab.com

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