In my dreams I am dirty, broke, beautiful and free.
25 Jan, 2023
In my dreams I am dirty, broke, beautiful and free. A chance encounter with a group of Punks on the streets of Camden led to an invitation to attend what turned out to be a extremely chaotic and eye-opening birthday party back at their squat that night. Once inside the barricaded doors of the squat I knew with every fibre of my being that I needed to photograph the lives of this group of outsiders. I was told that if I wanted to take photos I’d have to gain the permission of every single resident of the squat. I was optimistic. My new friends didn’t share my optimism. They strongly doubted my chances of convincing the squat bully. Big Dave was a hefty, twitchy, bully of a man who used his size and propensity for extreme violence to intimidate everyone that lived in the squat. Having not slept for the last four days due to a pretty intense ketamine and amphetamine binge and with his drug fuelled paranoia at peak levels, he bluntly and belligerently refused any means of photography and then began to accuse me of being an undercover police officer. I laughed his accusation off. Posturing and posing in front of the squat crew, he was insisting I prove that I wasn’t wearing a wire. “A wire? What the fuck? Of course I'm not,” I stated in disbelief. “Prove it,” he said menacingly. “How do you want me to prove that?” Sneering at me he hissed, “Get naked”. Immediately I sensed my opportunity. Looking him straight in his bulging, bloodshot eyes I said to him, “Big Dave, you seem like a man of your word, so... I’ll get nude right now. In front of all of you. If... you let me take all the photos that I want for the next three weeks!” His hostile sneer turning into an awkward, mischievous grin and calling my bluff he quickly agreed. And this, is how I found myself standing in my birthday suit in front of 25 punks and a three-legged dog amongst collapsed sofas and piles of empty cider bottles in a old, derelict industrial building in Kilburn, north west London. As its turned out, three weeks turned into a few years and that one act of vulnerability led to being welcomed into the London squatting community with open arms and the privileged position of documenting a handful of subcultures from the inside.
David Cossini is a documentary photographer and storyteller based out of Newcastle, Australia and specialising in immersive, long-form projects and portraiture. His images are evocative, often choosing subjects that are extreme, raw and at times unapologetically brutal. Instinctively drawn to outliers and the underdog, choosing to document those on the fringes of mainstream society. Utilising a combination of his life experience, people skills and with an open mind and an open heart, Cossini’s approach is authentic, intimate and intense but ultimately humanistic. It’s full of tenderness. There is no judgement on his part, there’s no morality, he’s not glamorising it and he’s not shying away from the more difficult aspects of their lives. Having exhibited in group shows locally and internationally, In 2001 Cossini had his first solo exhibition for his award winning project ‘Grande Bruto’ at aMBUSH Gallery in Sydney as part of the Head On Photo Festival. In 2022, Cossini was the winner of the 2021 Gomma Grant New Flavour Award, The 2022 Percival Photographic Portrait Prize and Still Motion/Video Photographer of the Year award winner at the International Awards.