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Congratulations to Professor Federico Freschi, Head of College of Te Maru Pūmanawa - Creative Practice & Enterprise, Otago Polytechnic, on his Professorial Lecture last night (Tuesday, 19 October).

Prof Freschi’s lecture, titled “Privilege & Prejudice: Reflections on the Politics of Art, Architecture & Design”, included examples from a South African context that showed how designed forms, structures and artefacts were implicated in embedding white privilege and entangled in the politics of claiming and deploying power.

Against a global context of resurgent nationalisms and urgent calls for decolonisation, these examples had broad resonance across other former settler-colonial societies, Prof Freschi said.

The lecture coincided with the launch of the edited volume, The Politics of Design: Privilege & Prejudice in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa (eds. Federico Freschi, Jane Venis and Farieda Nazier, Otago Polytechnic Press, 2021).

"It is a privilege to be able to present a Professorial Lecture," Prof Freschi says.

"Having come to Aotearoa New Zealand from South Africa, it has given the rare opportunity to reflect on the broader arc of my research and to test its relevance in a new context.

"My research over the past two decades has largely been on the roles that art, architecture and design play in constructions of identity and national belonging. While the case studies that I have focused on are largely South African, there are interesting similarities with, and lessons to be drawn from, other settler-colonial societies. The lecture sparked much discussion afterwards on these points, and I am looking forward to exploring these questions going forward. 

"I concluded with the whakatauki “Ehara tāku toa, i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini” (success is not the work of an individual, but the work of many), and the support of colleagues has certainly been amazing – particularly Professor Leoni Schmidt and Lesley Brooks from the Research Office. Oonagh McGirr gave a very generous introduction and Dr Bridie Lonie gave an equally generous and insightful formal thanks at the conclusion, with Dr Helen Papuni opening and closing the evening with beautifully expressed karakia."

Prof Freschi was appointed Head of College of Te Maru Pūmanawa-Creative Practice & Enterprise at the Otago Polytechnic in October 2019. Before that, he was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

A widely published art historian, Prof Freschi has curated exhibitions of national and international significance, notably as the South African curator of Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning, the first exhibition of Matisse’s work to be held on the African continent. He is a former Vice-President on the board of Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA), formerly held the position of President of SAVAH (South African Visual Arts Historians) and is on the advisory committee of Forum Kunst und Markt (Technische Universität Berlin).


Published on 20 Oct 2021

Orderdate: 20 Oct 2021
Expiry: 20 Oct 2023