Biljana Jurukovski

The woman behind the lens

My name is Biljana, and this is my documented journey throughout this wild, beautiful, and complex world.

Biljana is a Macedonian Australian award-winning photographer, with her work being exhibited in galleries and festivals in UAE, Paris, New York, Berlin, Barcelona, and Macedonia. Her work has won a plethora of prestigious awards and has been subsequently published in renowned photobooks such Portraits of Humanity, 1854 Media, London, The Talents of The Year2019 Photobook by The Independent Photographer, Portfolio “Tribal Muses” published in the book “ 12th Macedonian Photographers”, as well as magazines such Australian photography magazine, the Guardian, Silvershotz Magazine, Lens Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, La Fotografia, and many more publications. In addition to her magazine features, her striking portraits have also been showcased in galleries in New York, Berlin, Barcelona, Macedonia, and France, thereby forging a global impression. Through her work, Biljana has supported many charity organizations and events by donating some of her Fine Art prints for auctions. In addition to this, she continues to donate a portion of each sale to charitable organisations. Her most recent noteworthy achievement is her inclusion in the Sent Into Space project: 1854 Media, the publisher of the British Journal of Photography, which has partnered with Sent Into Space to broadcast a message of peace and unity from humankind to space - and potentially extra-terrestrial counterparts. In a feat never before achieved with a photographic exhibition, Sent Into Space will launch a framed screen exhibiting 200 shortlisted images from the 2022 competition. The chosen images will be projected over 111,000 feet into the stratosphere with a 360-degree camera attached so that the featured photographers can see their pictures displayed against the extraordinary backdrop of space. The selected images will then be translated into binary code, with the radio waves traveling unimpeded through the solar system at the speed of light. Theoretically, these photos could continue to travel infinitely, or until another civilisation receives and decodes them.

Within the four corners of a photograph, I have been able to capture the raw intensity of people, tribes, and cultures that have managed to maintain their connection with their ancestry. A digital time capsule, if you will.

Separate from the camera, She is also a dedicated mother, wife, and daughter. Throughout her life she has worked as an Executive Manager within the aged care industry, all the while harnessing her creativity as a painter and artist. But much like every other human, once all these titles are stripped back it leaves her with the core values of being someone who simply adores people and is striving to etch her mark onto the world’s overflowing canvas. Therefore, much of what she does is driven by her desire to leave behind a lasting legacy that far surpasses the materialism contemporary society is so often driven by. The subject is humanity. Her whole life, Biljana has been a dreamer, allowing her own mind to roam to the extent that it drives her footsteps to the borders of the most isolated regions. Even at a young age, she would envision exploring faraway destinations, immersing herself in their cultures and learning how to reconnect with the earth that is so easily exploited. Biljana is often asked where such a burning love for different cultures and traditions comes from, to which she turns her gaze toward her roots. Growing up in the beautiful country of Macedonia, she was propped up on the foundation of a strong, traditional upbringing.

Passionate community values were instilled in me throughout my formative years, which later transpired into an unwavering fascination for all cultures unfamiliar to me.

At the impressionable age of 21, Biljana made the bold decision to migrate to Australia. The multicultural environment to which she assimilated exposed her to a host of new cultures, which only served to stoke her fascination.

Admittedly, uprooting my life and planting myself in a completely different country brought about a plethora of challenges that made me question who I was and where I belonged. In hindsight, it was one of the most crucial stages in my life.

Come 2014, she was ravenous for a different perspective, hungry for new experiences and a deeper understanding of the oftentimes suppressed regions of the world. Tapping into that craving, she signed her name up for a photography expedition in Ethiopia to live amongst and photograph a range of tribes. The impact was immediate. From the very first day, Biljana was struck by the organic beauty and power of African aesthetics. The African adornment dazzled her, organically demanding attention in a way that no contemporary fashion show ever could. She soon learned that body painting and ornate jewelry carries with them purposeful messages and generational meanings. Above all else, a foundation of reciprocal trust and respect needed to be established between Biljana and all members of the tribe. This rings especially true when it comes to an art form as intimate as portrait photography. Capturing the tribes in such a raw and unfiltered way demanded a profound cognizance of their culture first. Biljana took the time, without the camera, to empathise with the tribe she was immersing herself in. Bridging the gap between cultures with open ears and inquisitive eyes. She listened before she spoke. Observed before she got involved. It was only after a mutual understanding was established that Biljana drew her camera. By that stage, a shared enthusiasm for the goal of an all-encompassing picture was corroborated, and Biljana could draw her camera. Despite her inquisitive spirit steering her to all corners of the world, Africa exists to be her omphalos. To this day she continues to revisit the alluring country, documenting the lives and untouched beliefs of the tribes through photography and words.

I feel honoured to have been privy to the culture and traditions that have remained, for the most part, unscathed by the contemporary world. In doing so, I have encountered people that view the world through a different lens but nonetheless share the same foundational humanity.