Raúl Cárdenas (México, 1969)


When Torolab was first invited to participate in inSite_O5 and to submit an architectural proposal for the design of the temporary inSite_O5 information center in Tijuana, the group was a collective consisting of architect Raúl Cárdenas and designer Marcela Guadiana. Shortly thereafter, the professional partnership between Cárdenas and Guadiana dissolved. Since it was decided that Cárdenas would keep the artistic trademark of Torolab he continued to manage the project. In March 2004 Torolab prepared an initial proposal for the infoSite in Tijuana. Presented as a three-dimensional animation, the proposal was a spectacular visual attraction, with tremendous potential for mass public appeal. The project included an open-air skating rink that would be open in summer, a magnificent voluminous structure six times larger than had originally been considered, and a sophisticated structural technology of curved scaffolding, which at that point was not available in the area (and, at that time, had not been budgeted). All these aspects indicated that the proposal’s utopian impulse, as well as Torolab’s enthusiasm for their design, would overshadow the basic objective of the commission for inSite_O5, which was to have an information center open to the public on the day of its inauguration in Tijuana.

Working with another group of collaborators, Torolab presented a second proposal, which consisted of the use of multiple stacked containers connected to each other by exterior ramps, which would house the infoSite’s program. The proposal, although reformulated again and again, remained technically and financially unviable. Its presentation—still anchored in the utopian inclinations of the initial proposal—dispensed with any technical verification and with the necessary construction plans. From March 2004 until February 2005—a year full of international commitments for Cárdenas—the possibility of realizing a project that could extend beyond Torolab’s initial designs was finally exhausted. Towards the end of May of 2005, with less than three months until inSite_O5’s inauguration—and lacking an executive proposal to present to the infoSite’s constructors—inSite’s curatorial team and directors decided to cancel the commission. We have included Torolab’s initial proposal here, as we deem this INSITE archival website to be an appropriate place to share the remarkable challenges that Torolab faced generating the Tijuana infoSite proposal.

Mexico City-based artist Jonathan Hernández’s project, No One over 21, consisted of the production of a music video taking as its subject the nightlife in Tijuana clubs that cater to underage teenagers from San Diego. Hernández collaborated with the Tijuana-based Nortec music group FUSSIBLE in creating the soundtrack to accompany his video. Additionally, the Tijuana collective, ToroLab (Raúl Cárdenas and Marcela Guadiana), was engaged to design the visual materials and branding that went along with the production of the music video. While the video could be seen at the in(fo)SITEs in San Diego and Tijuana, CD-ROM copies were also available for purchase at Sam Goody’s in Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego. It was Hernández’s intent to make a product born out of the material that describes the nightlife culture and then market this image back to the same adolescents who create it in the first place.

Direction: Jonathan Hernández
Design: ToroLab

Curators: Susan Buck-Morss, Ivo Mesquita, Osvaldo Sánchez, and Sally Yard
Venues: in(fo)SITES, San Diego and Tijuana