It's hard to believe that photography is "just a hobby" for the Sydney-based Macedonian-Australian mum Biljana Jurukovski, as her striking images of remote communities around the world have already attracted accolades from several international photography publications.
For the past five years, she has focused her craft on taking moving portraits of different cultures around the world. In particular, her Tribal Muse series hones in on the beauty of the Surma tribe—and more specifically the Suri.
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 women, 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.
We had a chance to speak with Jurukovski just prior to a new trip to Ethiopia. Read on for our exclusive interview as she opens up about her work.
Biljana Jurukovski: Instagram