This website is a companion to the film Tindaya Variations. It is designed to connect it to the larger research project it is part of – an investigation of the controversy surrounding the mountain of Tindaya in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands).

Tindaya is several things at once: a listed indigenous archaeological site, a protected environment, a mining resource and the designated location of a monumental work of public art. Tindaya Variations unpacks this contentious multiplicity. The film can be watched here. 


This is the second layer; it explores conceptual and theoretical issues. The texts are based on – they are variations of – the following academic publications:

Marrero-Guillamón, Isaac. 2020. ‘Monumental Suspension: Art, Infrastructure, and Eduardo Chillida’s Unbuilt Monument to Tolerance’. Social Analysis 64 (3): 26–47. Link. 

Marrero-Guillamón, Isaac. 2021. More than a mountain: the contentious multiplicity of Tindaya. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27 (3): 496-517. Link. 


The mountain of Tindaya (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands) is the inner part of a now eroded volcano, some 20 million years old. In 1979, a local amateur archaeologist discovered hundreds of indigenous engravings near the top. Further studies confirmed the importance of the archeological site, and the centrality of the mountain for the maho people that inhabited the island before it was colonised by Spain in the 15th Century.

As a result, the mountain was listed as an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1985. Soon after it was also listed as a Natural Monument, due to its environmental singularity.
Despite its “protected” status, however, the state also granted mining licenses which resulted in three quarries where the mountain’s rock was extracted.



Understanding the lure that Chillida’s Monument exerted over politicians and state officials requires delving into certain processes that were taking place in Spain in the 1990s. After joining the European Economic Community in 1986, the state embarked in an intense period of “modernisation”. Large infrastructures (e.g. the high-speed rail network, airports, new metro and light rail systems, and countless new highways, bridges and tunnels) became the markers of an unequivocal break with the past – that is, with the backward country Franco’s dictatorship had produced.

This was a period characterised by what artist David Bestué1 calls the “monumentalisation of infrastructure” – a phase of technical and budgetary exuberance in which the state’s demand for works of “lasting impact” that would assert the nation’s newfound modernity was met by a group of engineers and architects more than ready to monumentalise public infrastructures, such as Santiago Calatrava or Frank Gehry. Clear and minimalist at times, more often flashy and overconfident, the public works of the time became politico-sensory statements, flagships of Spain’s new democratic, modern condition.2

Within this context, Chillida’s Monument to Tolerance represented, for the region’s politicians, the opportunity to partake in the developmental paroxysm of the time. They regularly referred to the project with expressions such as “a once in a lifetime opportunity”, “a turning point” for the island, or a work of “paramount importance” that “would raise the bar”. It is as if Chillida’s cubic void, the quintessential modernist gesture, created the necessary space for the state’s projections of modernity. The Monument represented not just a new attraction capable of attracting more (and better) tourists, but the very image of a break with the past.

1. Bestué, David. “Formas Libres: La Influencia de La Escultura En La Ingeniería Española Reciente.” El Estado Mental, no. 7 (2015): 132–38.
2. See Larkin, Brian. ‘Promising Forms: The Political Aesthetics of Infrastructure’. In The Promise of Infrastructure, edited by Nikhil Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel, 175–202. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018; Larkin, Brian. ‘The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure’. Annual Review of Anthropology 42, no. 1 (2013): 327–43.