School of the Arts, English and Drama

Postgraduate research

Aria Spinelli

Photo of  Aria Spinelli

Aria Spinelli is an independent curator and researcher. She holds a BA in Contemporary Art History from the La Sapienza University of Rome and an MA in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies from the New Academy of Art in Milan (NABA).

After graduating from her BA, Aria collaborated with institutions and galleries such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Castello di Rivoli in Turin (2005-2006) and Christian Stein Gallery in Milan (2008-2009). Since 2009 she has also been acting as curator at Isola Art Center. Isola Art Center is an open platform of experimentation for contemporary art that has developed in the Isola neighbourhood in Milan, Italy. Grappling for over one decade with an urban situation crossed by conflicts and widespread transformations, the project remains “no-budget”, precarious and ultralocal. At Isola Art Center, Aria curated shows and workshops such as Horror Vacui – Occupying the present (April - June 2010) and G for Gentrification (May - July 2011). In 2009 she also founded art and curatorial collective Radical Intention. For the past four years Radical Intention has been creating long-term research projects on socio-political issues related to art and its practices. Radical Intention promotes a synergy between subjectivities by creating collaborative working groups and using collective methods of production. Recent projects are: Decompression Gathering Summer Camp with WochenKlausur, Corniolo, Italy (25-31 August 2013); Milano Radicale, Milan/Corniolo, Italy (June 2011 – May 2012).

Aria has also been invited to curate and collaborate on community art and socially engaged projects and shows, such as Taking Positions – Identity Questioning (Fare arte, Milan, Italy w/ACSL – Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory, Yerevan, Armenia, Italy), Being Visible – Contemporary ways of signification (CHAN arte, Genoa, Italy).


Thesis Title/Topic:

Practising the assembly: the agonistic struggle and the institution of the social imaginary

Research question: Can the idea of the assembly as a form of curating enact agonistic politics and affect the social imaginary necessary for capitalist reproduction?

Aria Spinelli’s primary area of research is investigating the relationship between art and activism. Her research suggests that the ‘assembly’, as both a curatorial format and exhibition display, will possibly activate forms of agonistic politics that can potentially affect the social imaginary necessary for capitalist reproduction. After recent anti-capitalist protests, the art world has shown a renewed interest towards socially and politically engaged art. Reflected in both small and large-scale events, such as the 7th Berlin Biennale, (Berlin, 2012), Truth is Concrete (Graz, 2012) and the last edition of the Istanbul Biennial (Istanbul, 2013), artists and curators seem to direct their interest towards defining new relationships between art and the public sphere, politics and activism. In the sphere of political theory and philosophy, theorists are also looking to the cultural and artistic domain as an arena of important contributions to a novel conceptualization of the aesthetic dimension of the ‘political’. Taking from discussions in both fields of inquiry, Aria intends to analyze the interrelationship between the notion of the ‘social imaginary’ by French sociologist Cornelius Castoriadis and of ‘agonism’ by political theorist Chantal Mouffe, relating them to the field of curatorial studies and praxis.



Dr Gillian Whiteley|Senior Lecturer Critical & Historical Studies|Research Coordinator|School of the Arts|Loughborough University