The shop operated (temporarily) out of a converted rubbish collection vehicle in the so-called Gold Zone in the city centre.

Founded in 1995 by architect and artist Raúl Cárdenas-Osuna, Torolab includes artists, designers and musicians. Their main focus of attention has been the quality of life in the communities in and around Tijuana. Their commitment is to these people’s everyday lives and how they are affected by the existence of the nearby border.

Torolab’s projects start out with a contextual analysis by which they negotiate their way into a situation, defining temporary zones, while their interventions trigger critical debates between disciplines. The results are often hybrid constellations involving spaces, designs, target groups and functions.

In their operations Torolab administer a skilful division of labour. They take on diverse tasks, some of which are explicitly functional and located on the boundary of architecture and design, while others are of a more strategic nature involving socio-political commitments.

Torolab look at borders as a type of material. They are particularly interested in examining and moulding borderline positions, such as those between art and social or geopolitical situations, between art and advertising or between art and architecture. They challenge the borders defining the public and the private; corporate and virtual space; neighbourhoods and countries. In their practice Torolab engage with redefining, moving and dissolving borders. The fact that they operate out of the trans-border region of Tijuana/San Diego in many ways explains their choice of material.

One of their projects is Toro Vestimenta, was on display in the In-Shop (Shop) (2004) trawling the streets of Liverpool for International 04. The shop operated (temporarily) out of a converted rubbish collection vehicle in the so-called Gold Zone in the city centre. Toro Vestimenta, Torolab’s clothing line, included the multi-pocketed Transborder Trousers, perfect for holding a passport, the new ‘laser visa’ issued by the US, or credit cards. Such functions drew attention to a specific social and economic reality: the use of these trousers depended on the specific needs of the wearers, be they from the US or Mexico.

The rubbish collection vehicle, usually operated by street cleaners employed by Liverpool City Council, was re-engineered and re-fitted into a moving shop. The artists drove it and instead of picking up litter in the streets, they sold their own manufactured clothing line and other items selected by Torolab collaborators. This parasitic action exposed some of the processes and strategies involved in Torolab’s ways of working. The In-Shop (Shop) (2004) made use of one functional design, converted and applied it to a different purpose. Implicitly the message remained clear: please keep the streets clean. In the meantime, trust the parasite to do its job.

In-Shop (Shop), 2004
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Church Street