Bollard. The wide frontier

Juan Valbuena


A bollard is something that allows a vessel to be securely attached; although, in reality, the navigation that Juan Valbuena carried out over more than ten years and on which he wants us to embark, represents uncertainness and, therefore, freedom.

This is a voyage that takes place in a territory that coincides, more or less, with a «country», the Mediterranean, as French-Algerian writer Albert Camus –no doubt, a companion on Valbuena’s travels– called it. «A country like no other, that has brought him both so far and so close». But, above all, a space that spans centuries of crossings, where thousands of stories are told and hundreds of passages are remembered, making it an intermediate continent.

In the same manner that it was experienced at each new city, port and stop on his itinerary, Valbuena guides us –by means of his photographs– on a trek along the heart of the Mediterranean beings, that penetrates as sensations do, experiences that describe the traveller, that figure who sees for the first time, feels, touches, breathes and who faces himself, devoid of masks, in an unknown space, with no references, but with sensations of closeness and recognition.

What is important at any given moment is not that we know what city we are entering, at what port this fragile and floating vessel has docked, but rather to feel the activity of the port, to want to have coffee at the first bar and watch people as they go by. As in Noces à Tipasa by Albert Camus, «we penetrate a world of yellow and blue that welcomes us with the fragrant and acrid sigh of the earth».

After the first sensations, under the ruthless and revitalizing sun, after a dip in the sea to refresh ourselves, listening to the children shout as they play, facing the void and sometimes ugliness, after the sun has set, watching the young newlyweds, we enter a world of symbols, mystery and secrets. Secrets that Valbuena tells us, in the same manner that Camus revealed that glory is «the right to love without measure» as he affirmed.

BOLLARD (1835-45; bole + -ard)

  1. A thick, low post, usually of iron or steel, mounted on a wharf or the like, to which mooring lines from vessels are attached.
  2. A minimum possible port.
  3. Juan Valbuena’s favorite word.
  4. A travel book through the wide frontier, a territory that coincides, more or less, with the Mediterranean Sea.



Photo exhibition presented in the frame of the Mediterranean Literary Gathering Albert Camus from 7th of April to 12th May 2017 in Maó, Menorca.

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