Chernyshevsky penned the novel in 1863, while imprisoned for his radical political activities. It went on to be read voraciously by the Russian public, including by Vladimir Lenin, and established the ideological foundations of Russia’s socialist revolution.
“He’s faintly veiled his political program within the form of a novel, which is the only reason he was allowed to write in prison,” says Gregory. “But when you read it, it’s clear that the characters are motivated in a very political way. At the time, it was almost a blueprint for how you could change the world and change your life.”
The curator has sought out artists whose work captures a similar cocktail of subtlety and political force. And though Gregory says The Armory Show gave her freedom to curate a section not driven by the market, many of her selections deal nonetheless with the economy and systems of value exchange in some way.