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Arts & Culture

A T-Shirt Twin In Tijuana

A diagram explaining how "Twins in Twain" will work.
A diagram explaining how "Twins in Twain" will work.

It’s hard to venture out into the world without seeing Chanel handbags and Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses on just about everyone. With the mass production of so many items, it’s become difficult to stand out in a seemingly uniform crowd. However, this is all about to change—and not necessarily through a revolutionary D.I.Y. movement. Imagine donning a nearly one of a kind T-shirt that doubles as wearable art, while secretly knowing that another person across the border could be wearing the same T-shirt at the same time!

During this weekend’s Labor Day barbeques and end of summer festivities, why not check out the Art Labs series happening citywide as part of the larger ART SAN DIEGO Contemporary Art Fair (running September 1-4 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront). Premiering during the series, local artist Omar Lopez’s imaginative project Twins in Twain: Agreed Invisible Tethers Between Strangers, explores the idea of creating relationships with people who we do not know through invisible connections, and a t-shirt!

Ten artists in San Diego and ten artists in Tijuana have each created original t-shirt designs to be printed twice, thus producing two identical t-shirts for wear on both sides of the border. Though t-shirts are an everyday commodity, in this border-spanning project, they are imbued with a certain artistic rarity, becoming almost one of a kind.


The cross-border wearing of the t-shirts speak to the project’s larger message: the power of creating connections between individuals across borders who have never met. The project will truly come to life during the auctioning off of the t-shirts this Saturday.

The t-shirts will be auctioned off at auctions held simultaneously on each side of the border—at The Front Gallery in San Ysidro and at La Casa del Túnel in Tijuana. The auction will be video broadcast through Skype, creating a technological link between guests and auction-goers in both galleries and art spaces. The scene of the auction may be “moderately insane” with auction-goers attempting to place top bids while simultaneously tuning in to their sister auction via Skype—the whole event sounds like a work of art in itself!

Guests are encouraged to visit both locations, with La Casa del Túnel only a short fifteen-minute trolley ride across the border. It’s worth noting that this Art Lab is the most southern, which will allow guests to mix it up and branch out of the comfort of downtown.

There is a certain paradox to this project in its bonds to visual art, technology, and commerce. Lopez recognizes that those lucky enough to win the auctioned T-shirts will gain more than simply an item of clothing: “It’s like a satellite or kind of like a tether or a focal point that will connect these two people.” Ultimately, Twins in Twain is appealing in its potential to be repeated in the future—yet the excitement and mystery lies in the uncertain results of Lopez’s premiere project.

Both auctions will be held from 6-8pm on Saturday September 3 at The Front Gallery in San Ysidro and at La Casa del Túnel in Tijuana.


Here's our guide to all the free Art Labs and a few survival tips for your weekend.