This huge, multifaceted project has been a long time coming. My experience in the Catacombes de Paris summer 2016 was the inspiration for Under New York City. I travelled there to fulfill a multimedia project that I successfully funded through Kickstarter. There was no plan, no research - just my 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 allowed to visit. The tunnels you sneak into at night through secret tunnels, carrying flashlights and a binder of maps in hopes of finding a way through the labyrinth.
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 my team and I are up to the task. I love facing and conquering challenges. I don't dream; I get it done.
This project was awarded the 2017 Made in NY Fellowship through the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, a Made in N.Y. Micro-grant, and is currently incubating in the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
Under New York City is also a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). NYFA is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization that supports artists in their fundraising. All contributions to Under New York City are US tax-deductible.
Project Website: www.undernyc.org
“[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.”
– Lyle Rexer - writer, critic, and professor of photography at the School of Visual Arts.
Under New York City is fueled by a small but extremely talented team.
My career began as a rock and roll photographer and journalist. I shot hundreds of concerts up and down the west coast, including Led Zeppelin, Elton John, the Eagles, George Harrison, the Bee Gees, to name a few. I've published two coffee-table books, Starart and Everybody I Shot Is Dead. And I've directed two short films, End of the Innocents and Chuck E.'s Too Big A Deal. My next film, My First Kiss, inspired by my wild and wonderful rock and roll experiences, is in the works. My photography exploits continue on a daily basis.
Stephen is a writer, researcher, and amateur photographer based in Brooklyn. He is pursuing a PhD in Geography at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where he studies infrastructure. Stephen writes about art and architecture; prison and policing; political organizing; and much more. His current project is entitled The Bunker Hill Story: Welfare, Redevelopment, and Housing Crisis in Postwar Los Angeles.
Jefferson Randall is a filmmaker, editor, writer, and musician from New York City. He has written and directed six short films, created several musical projects, and is an avid writer of short stories, plays, and poems. He is currently a student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he studies film, english, and photography.