Montaña de Tindaya Project, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands  

Tindaya was meant to be the final masterpiece of the Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida: a sculptural intervention inside a majestic mountain in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, which involved digging a 50 cubic meters cavity in the mountain. But Chillida, who died in 2002, never saw his dream project realized.

The project however, might eventually see the light of day, as the heirs have given the rights to the ambitious land art project to the government of the Canary Islands, El País reports.

But they have done so on a series of conditions: to “absolutely respect” the vision of the artist, to respect the environment, and to create a foundation in which both the heirs and the government will be represented.

Tindaya was conceived by Chillida in 1985 as “a mountain for men of all races and colors, a monument to tolerance,” in words of the artist. But the project was plagued by controversy and lawsuits from the start—launched by ecologists and anthropologists—which halted its construction before it could even begin.

The Canary Islands government tried to reactivate Tindaya back in 2011, when a public competition to carry out the €75 million project was briefly in the works. But a series of aboriginal carvings were found at the top of the mountain, and the project was halted, once again.

“Years ago I had an intuition, which I sincerely believed utopian. Within a mountain create an interior space that could be offered to men of all races and colors, a great sculpture for tolerance. One day arose the possibility of realizing in Tindaya, in Fuerteventura, the mountain where utopia could be reality. The sculpture helped protect the sacred mountain. The great space created within her would not be visible from the outside, but the men who penetrated her heart would see the light of the sun, of the moon, within a mountain turned to the sea, and the horizon, unattainable, necessary, nonexistent …

The support given by the Canarian Government to the sculptural idea reinforced my illusion. I thought that the work would not provoke controversy in the Canarian people, to which I thought to donate the sculpture and my work in it. But I have seen that the sculptural project awakens in many, unforeseen resentments and suspicions, an opposition difficult to evaluate now in its true importance, but sufficient to reduce my enthusiasm until giving up the realization of the work. However I think it would be very positive to show the Canarian people and the whole world in an exhibition of models and drawings what was intended to be done in Tindaya.

The sculpture is conceived as a monument to tolerance, as I said, and is a work for the Canarian people. I do not wish, therefore, to serve as an element of division, much less as a stone of scandal thrown into political struggles, which I do not understand, and in which I do not wish to be involved.

I am only interested in the artistic debate, which unfortunately has not occurred. I have not heard or read any unfavorable criticism of the sculpture that has been made by someone who truly knows the project. But I know that some people who do not know have claimed that the work would destroy the mountain, when my work what I wanted was to save it.

Perhaps utopia can never be a reality. Maybe others will get it somewhere else. Or perhaps sculpture, that spacious and deep space, accessible to the light of the sun and to the moon, the meeting place of men, can reach the heart of the Sacred Mountain of Tindaya.”

                                                  Eduardo Chillida, press release - July, 1996