Macedonian-Australian, traveler, documentarian, social commentator, and self-taught photographer, Biljana Jurukovski, shows formal portraits of the Suri-Surma people of Ethiopia and South Sudan. The Surma paint, scarify, and accessorize their bodies according to an aesthetic developed entirely outside of First World contact, creating fascinating artworks, using their skin as canvas. Jurukovski calls them “the avant-garde of the tribal world.” The photos are fascinating but the story of how she sought out the conjunction of cultures and how she won her subjects’ trust and friendship is just as much a part of her portfolio as the images.
Her photography is an astringent antidote to typical travel photography and to the dated and wooden images that dot the pages of many “world cultures” textbooks. Over the years of her practice and through the course of her visits to India, Mongolia, and Ethiopia, she has both developed her “eye” as a photo-artist and refined her vision of how to represent both the outer and inner lives of her subjects. It is a great pleasure to be able to present an extended group of her works showing exotic tribal people, revealed in their strangely familiar humanity, through Biljana’s accomplished craft and extraordinary sensitivity.
"I was born and raised in Macedonia, a country with a very strong cultural and traditional upbringing and that has been so deeply embedded in my mind from a very young age. When I was 21, I immigrated to Australia, which is a very multicultural country, and I guess there I started branching out and getting familiar with many different cultures. I strongly believe in my motto “We can only enjoy this wonderful world full of beauty, charm and diversity if we decide to appreciate and cherish our differences”.