The Botanical Garden presents ‘Serra Gelada. Les llums de l’abisme’ with breath-taking photos by Jaume Fuster

Serra Gelada views

The Botanical Garden holds the exhibition ‘Parc Natural de la Serra Gelada. Les llums de l’abisme’ (Catalan for ‘Serra Gelada Natural Park. Lights in the depth’) inviting us to discover and value this unique maritime and terrestrial natural area in the Alacant coast with spectacular pictures by Juame Fuster. The Serra Gelada (Catalan for ‘Cold Sierra’), declared Natural Park in 2005, is home of the highest hanging fossil dune in the Mediterranean and different terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as some historical singularities such as watchtowers, ancient smuggling passes, and old carabineers’ quarters.

Serra Gelada’s –or Albir Mountain, as historically named– grandeur, that sharp and fierce altitude, inspired Jaume Fuster to start a 15-year project to take a journey into the heart of this 6 km-long mountain embracing Benidorm and l’Alfàs del Pi. It then cuts abruptly by the sea creating a cliff of more than 400 m high. He has repeatedly visit the park walking some paths on the top, climbing the cliff, crawling through its caves, gazing at its incommensurability from both the sea and air so that he could capture every spot and detail.

As Fuster remembers, every picture was a challenge “since it is a very complicated sierra with some spots such as the Segur Path, where there is a free fall of 300 m into the sea” or “the Albir Cave, only accessible by crawling in a particular way, so being 4 people carrying an equipment was physically exhausting.” This is why the project is very unique, which has only been possible through much effort, claims the photographer. “It has been a very personal project since my father first showed me this place, where I grew up, my backyard.” He insists that the moment was not either randomly chosen. The sierra “is now threatened by the construction of a cableway at the Punta de les Caletes, passing over one of the watchtowers. This is why a want to make a contribution so that my fellow citizens are aware of the treasure that we have and so the need of conserving it as it is now, the most unspoiled we can.”

The exhibition Parc Natural de la Serra Gelada. Les llums de l’abisme shows the results of the efforts made with huge analogue photographs, with which Fuster succeeds in conveying Serra Gelada’s spell, beauty and complexity. Historical photographs by Carlos Sarthou as well as some nautical charts, 19th century maps, and other documents are also displayed in a unique and global exhibition of this natural area with great ecological and environmental, but also historical and toponymical, value.

In this sense, the book of the exhibition –which has the same title– gathers Fuster’s photographs together with texts from experts on different fields and the sierra: Francesc Xavier Llorca (Documentation), Vicenç Maria Rosselló (Geography and Toponymy), Carolina Frías (Archaeology), and Josep Piera (Botanics). Fuster got in touch with them as the photographic work was being carried out, which presents the Serra Gelada as a strategical enclave for fishing and sea vigilance, shelter and trench, witness of many stories of corsairs, smugglers and carabineers. The catalogue, published by the Botanical Garden, complements the exhibition perfectly and contributes to its aim: focusing on one of the most beautiful and valuable areas in the Valencian Country so that its preservation is warned. The Serra Gelada is a historical and natural heritage to know, value and preserve.

Jaume Fuster is a photography professor in the EASD of Valencia. Born in Benidorm, he is graduate in Information Sciences (San Pablo-CEU) and postgraduate by the Universitat Politènica de València. He worked in the former Valencian public television as a producer and camera operator and is author of different books, articles and catalogues on photography. His previous exhibitions Nueva Zelanda, cartas desde las antípodas, Almadraba o Poemas para leer sin respirar evidence his interest in remote geographies, in individuals and big natural areas, and in dreamlike evocation figures.

The exhibition Parc Natural de la Serra Gelada. Les llums de l’abisme has been organised by the Botanical Garden of the Universitat de València in collaboration with the Benidorm City Council, the Alacant Provincial Council, the L’Alfàs del Pi City Council, Frax Foundation and the Acadèmia Valenciana de la LLengua. Previously displayed in the Boca del Calvari Museum of Benidorm and in the Frax Foundation in L’Alfàs del Pi, the exhibition will close in the Botanical Garden. It will be displayed in the Hort de Tramoieres Hall from October 25 to January 6 (free entry).

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