Surfing is as much a passion as it is an obsession. It is one of the most romanticised pursuits one can engage in: mythical beings plunge into epic confrontations with the full force of nature, with little more than their strength, grace, and board to rely on. In the illusion of an endless summer, surfing is about catching a glimpse of enlightenment.
Stephan Vanfleteren (b. 1969) traveled the world over to document this global tribe, capturing anyone from local heroes to global superstars. Instead of the action shots one would expect, Vanfleteren presents these surfers in the idiosyncratic black and white portraits he is so well known for. The serenity of his images mirrors the calm of the surfers, often accompanied by nothing but their boards. The serenity of Vanfleteren’s images mirrors the calm of his subjects when they are faced with immense danger, when—for a brief moment—board, rider, and the vast ocean become one.
The exhibition Surf Tribe is on show at the CC Scharpoord, Knokke-Heist, Belgium from 24 March until 28 May 2018, with the accompanying book published by Hannibal Publishing.