Macedonian-Australian photographer Biljana Jurukovski has been fascinated by different cultures since childhood. For the past five years, she has focused her craft on taking moving portraits of different cultures around the world. In particular, her Painted Souls series hones in on the beauty of the Surma tribe. Living on the border of Ethiopia and South Sudan, the Suri is one of three ethnicities—together with the Me’en and Mursi– that the Ethiopian government classifies as the Surma Tribe. Living in villages of anywhere from 40 to 2,500, the Suri are agropastoralists who live in remote locations that keep them largely cut off from the rest of the world. Honing specifically in on Suri people, Jurukovski’s portraits help show different cultural standards of beauty.
Risking safety to travel to areas where inter-tribal fighting is still common, Jurukovski has visited the Suri many times. By setting her subjects against simple, black backdrops, she removes any visual distractions from the people she photographs and manages to pay respectful homage to the women and their culture. The Surma are known for their beautification rituals that include body makeup and scarification, and Jurukovski captures the rich details of their traditions without diminishing the Surma to a stereotype. As she continuously travels to Ethiopia to visit more tribes, she also returns to areas in order to show her models their portraits, bringing the project full circle.
Biljana Jurukovski is a Macedonian Australian travel and fine art photographer who has always been inspired and amazed by the diverse and beautiful expressions of different cultures. Biljana’s portraits are a culmination of her passion, love and respect for other cultures and traditions; they depict a graceful world where strength and pride are engraved on the faces of the people photographed. Biljana consider herself as explorer and adventurer with a great passion for photography. Her aim is through photography to create discussions about different cultures, their way of living and accepting life challenges. Biljana sees photography as a medium for communication between people. She has travelled in many countries on five continents through some of the most remote areas and has faced very challenging situations in the quest to photograph lives of tribal people.