Torolab seeks to address the public and political phenomena of a city through diagnostics and projects, which range between the creation of urban meeting spaces to visualizing statistical information through a decidedly artistic language. Mapping and analyzing urban systems and how they fail to function, Torolab creates a portrait of a place; a portrait whose parts, the lives and casualties of individuals, import a greater value than the sum they comprise. Torolab’s diagnostics and projects help to illustrate in human terms otherwise faceless statistics and return attention to questions of opportunity, violence and security for today’s youth and future generations.
La Granja (The Farm) is a diagnostic of the last five years of Torolab projects centered in Camino Verde, Tijuana, a neighborhood divided by a continually flooding canal that roils with the highest concentration of crime, nutritional poverty, and incarceration of juveniles. What started with a conversation five years ago, La Granja has become a source for community growth and a galvanizer of new public policy to improve the lives of Camino Verde residents. The Farm is equal parts a physical and emotional place that invites residents to put down roots, to invest in the construction of a community and reap the fruits of their collective labor.
The exhibition plants this common in the gallery setting, creating a town square-style laboratory as an extension of La Granja. The workshop, constructed from the discarded shipping crate of an artwork by Mathias Goeritz, references the artist’s affinity to the De Stijl, or neoplastic, movement and serves as a utopic platform around which visitors and members of La Granja can come together to construct a pragmatic, urban transformation of a physical place—the community of Camino Verde. Several architectural sculptures present the La Granja complex and the canal that divides the neighborhood as studies of architectural functionality and the building’s utility as the instrument and center of a living community. Alongside these, a dynamic sculpture by Goeritz, The Infinite City, provides the aesthetic and philosophical context for the building’s form and function, one in which independent and unobstructed vertical elements are brought together to create a space that is infinitely adaptable to the needs of the community.
As the De Stijl movement was, La Granja is a collective project, a joint enterprise, rather than a manifesto. Here Torolab reveals the potential of the individual unhindered by social problems and limitations with the support of a greater community. A full program of workshops, lectures, and events invite visitors to participate more fully in the greater project of La Granja and pledge an oath of commitment to impact. A blog serves as an extension of the project, involving an international public in the shaping of one community’s future.
Torolab is a collective laboratory of spatial investigations, art and contextual studies founded in 1995 and commanded by Raúl Cárdenas Osuna (Mazatlan, Sinaloa, México, 1969), who embodies a work methodology that invites people to develop the project with him; by working together, they become Torolab. The main thrust of Torolab projects lies in proposition and not in protest and the establishment of deep relationships between people, ideas, and equipment to improve quality of life. With their experiments they search for the sublime in the everyday–the DNA of comfort and an atmosphere of warm humanism: to obtain a better quality of life.
Cárdenas holds a degree in architecture from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Tijuana as well as a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of California in San Diego. His work has been exhibited in important museums and galleries the world over, including MoMA, New York, USA; ArtBasel, Switzerland; Galería OMR, Mexico City, Pasadena Museum of Art, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, USA; as well as in several international biennials in France, China, England and Brazil, among other countries. Cárdenas has actively lectured and participated in many global conferences and forums since 2000 in Spain, Italy, USA, Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Colombia, Australia, among many other countries.