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After a founder of mutual aid platform Community Bread passed away last year, his mother found rolls of undeveloped film, filled with glorious pictures of the city’s queer community.

When Paul Bui first moved to New York in the mid-2010s, he was surprised. Having grown up in Australia but also spending considerable time in Europe, he expected The City That Never Sleeps – with its storied queer nightlife history – to have a thriving LGBTQ+ techno scene. But on arrival, the parties and people he was seeking out were not as visible as he thought they would be.

“I was like: ‘Oh my God, this is going to be amazing,’” Bui, who is the Creative Director and co-founder of Community Bread, recalls. “I was going to Berghain back then, and I came here and could only find disco – and I was in shock that this was the best of underground clubbing for queer people, I didn’t feel like I was seeing them whatsoever. Then you have to dig a little bit deeper and then you find your community.”

It was during that process of digging when he first met Arthur Kozlovski. First crossing paths on the dancefloor of a Brooklyn warehouse rave, the pair bonded over their shared musical tastes and desire to platform talented artists from marginalised and underrepresented communities.

They would put those discussions into action when lockdown hit. Along with Angela Fan, Bui and Kozlovski formed mutual aid group Community Bread as a way of giving musicians a platform and providing them with income at a time when gigs – the well many performers relied on for money – completely dried up. The group began to organise live streams to give artists opportunities to play their music, while encouraging those who tuned in to donate to those playing, who were almost entirely from queer and/or BIPOC backgrounds.

“We noticed our friends were losing their gigs – they weren’t able to play and the clubs were shutting down, and these were queer people that really depended on that income to survive and we thought there must be a way to offset that economic hardship,” Bui says. “We had 30 collectives from around the world and 60 DJs from Josey Rebelle to Jasmine Infiniti, there were so many underrepresented artists and everyone was paid the same.”

As the world gradually began to return to the outdoors and the party world searched for the new normal, Community Bread began to evolve its work, curating festival line-ups and IRL parties. That was until last year, when they were hit with the devastating news that Kozlovski had passed away, and Bui and Fan put a pause on the initiative.

Now, the group have come together to present and publish a series of pictures that Kozlovski took at underground parties and events, after his mother found rolls of his undeveloped film. Kozlovski did mention that he had taken pictures, but Bui never seen him whip out a camera once and didn’t think much of what he had been told. “I work in fashion, so I was like: ‘Okay, whatever Arthur, you’re a photographer’. I kind of brushed it off,” he explains, but his eyes widened when he saw the pictures. “I was gagged – I’ve worked with magazines, brands and personalities and these images of nightlife are just wild – it’s not event photos, it’s people you might recognise a while ago in really underground settings [like] people’s basements and he captured really beautiful, candid moments.”

His pictures, which were displayed in a one-off Community Bread & Paragon exhibition and are now being sold as prints to fundraise for future Community Bread initiatives, capture the infant days of NYC’s LGBTQ+ underground scene through the 2010s, which has since grown to fill huge capacity warehouses and nightclubs across the city each weekend these days.

Wild, expressive outfits and looks are fully on show, while queer joy bursts from each shot. “Arthur was one of a kind,” Bui says. “He was always so positive, optimistic. Even in one of my last conversations he’d be talking about: ‘who are the groups of people we need to help?’ and ‘let’s document this, let’s document that’, even if he was struggling himself.

“He was loved by everyone in the New York scene, he was a queer character where you could hear his cackle across the room,” he continues. “At his memorial we had Kevin Aviance, Jasmine Infiniti and Mike Servito [come and] DJ in a heartbeat just to show the love for Arthur and what we built with Community Bread, which I’m so proud of because it really came from a place of trying to help the people we saw that needed it.”

Purchase a print from Underground Unfiltered via Community Bread’s official website.

All photos by Arthur Kozlovski