Under New York City is a multimedia project exploring, documenting, and shedding light on New York’s amazing underbelly - the subway system, sewers, catacombs, and the people that pass through, work, or live in these places.
My experience last summer in the Catacombes de Paris was the inspiration for Under New York City. I traveled there to fulfill a multimedia project that I successfully funded through Kickstarter. There was no plan, no research - just the drive to unleash my still and film cameras, dig deep into the underbelly, and tell stories with my lens. Ten days in, I chatted with a couple at the dog park. After I explained my project, the man asked if I wanted to go into the Catacombes. Not the museum catacombs open to the public. He meant the tunnels that you’re not supposed to visit. The tunnels you sneak into at night through secret entries, carrying flashlights and a binder of maps in hopes of finding a way through the labyrinth.
As Lyle Rexer, writer, critic, and professor of photography at the School of Visual Arts, described it, “[Under New York City] has the potential to be one of the most important documentary projects the city has ever seen, on par with the epochal photographic canvas made by Eugene Atget in Paris at the beginning of the last century. [Chesher’s] project would be an eye-opening education and an inspirational celebration of the city - how it works, who lives and works there, and what has been built by and for New Yorkers.”
Under New York City will culminate in a series of books, photography prints, and films. This project is my love letter to New York City. But it isn’t the typical romance. I celebrate the gritty, lost, and overlooked facets. This is a huge project, but I know I am up to the task. I love facing and conquering challenges. I don’t dream; I get shit done.
This project was awarded the 2017 Made in NY Fellowship through the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and is currently incubating in the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. We have also received a Made in NY Grant.