Faculty of ArtsAustralian Institute of Art History

Unity in diversity

Presented by Professor Federico Freschi

Executive Dean: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture University of Johannesburg

Where: Old Geology-Theatre 1, University of Melbourne
When: 24 June 12:30pm

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In this lecture, based on a body of published research conducted over the past decade, Professor Freschi focuses on the ‘official’ imagining, in architectural terms, of the South African nation state at three significant moments in its history: the pro-British imperialist coalition government of the 1930s, the Afrikaner Nationalist republic of the 1960s, and the post-apartheid government of the 1990s. In particular, the extent to which the decorative programmes of significant public buildings associated with these various governments resonate with questions of national identity and the construction of an imaginary of national belonging. Thus a case is made for the implicit ‘politics of ornament’; that is, to show the importance of the decorative programmes of public buildings in expressing (or being a gauge for) nationalist sentiment, and their functions as a political instrument. Professor Freschi argues that a critical awareness of the implicit politics of ornament can significantly complicate our readings of the nature and function of public architecture and public spaces.

Prof Federico Freschi is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. He is the ex-officio President of the South African Visual Art Historians, a Vice-President on the board of CIHA, and member of the International Committee of the College Art Association. As an art historian, his research has centred on the political iconography of South African public buildings. In particular, he is interested in the historical tensions between imperialism and nationalism, and how these are enacted in architectural terms.









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