Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

04 January 2014

Dictatorship of the Consensoriat

First published March 9, 2007

shark_consensus_contract.jpg

I wish to introduce a new word and a new phrase into the international artworld dialogue. The Dictatorship of the Consensoriat. Please assist me by using it every chance you get. Forming neologisms is one of my favorite diversions, especially now that I have been learning Latin. It may be a slightly arcane hobby, but I enjoy it, and terminology can control far more of ones thought processes than we are often happy to admit — therefore, why not grab the bull by the horns and begin to develop our own phrases for what we feel it is necessary to discuss or critique. Shakespeare created words like amazement and radiance, which have become commonplace. These made-up words have stood the test of time because they expressed notions people wanted to articulate, and because they were understandable. Let's hope I can do something similar, if less inspired. In fact, Shakespeare, in his plays, sonnets, and poems, used approximately 17,677 different words —and of those 17,677 words, 1,700 were brand-new, coined by him.


While immersed in my local struggle with the regional outpost of the "consensus clan" (as reported in Sharkforum here), I began to see that I needed a few new terms. Wesley's "Smart Set" is witty, but not understandable enough outside the US. My contributions usually nit-pick one or two professions unnecessarily, for the drive to the herd mentality manifests itself in all the sub-layers of the artworld currently. Therefore I began to play with Latin (rather freely and not always correctly, thus making what is known as "ML," or Modern Latin). I needed a term for the international cabal of consensus-thinkers, and I needed a phrase containing that word to express the power-control situation of the artworld since about 1987. I played with consensus, primarily, as that expresses the problem concisely. I tried to find a word expressing "those who seek only consensus" or something similar. I remembered the old Communist sententious saw, "The Dictatorship of the Proletariat." Mixing that with censor, and utilizing the similar and appropriate ending –iat, I had my term and phrase. (-at, or –ate, or –iat, is a suffix occurring in loanwords from Latin. In English the use as a verbal suffix has been extended to stems of non-Latin origin, and by way of French into the formation of certain nouns.)

I suspect I need not exactly define the group to whom I am referring, as most of us deal with them on a daily basis. Let me repeat a definition from the Sharkforum Glossary of Terms I wrote a while back here.

Consensus Clique= A few people gathered together, who actively exclude as many others as possible (particularly artists) and tacitly agree to agree on everything. They check in with each other regularly and only promote the lowest common denominator of what they concur on. This is not a conspiracy, they say, just a very convenient conformity of (small) minds to have identical tastes in order to achieve hegemony.

Let them now be called the Consensoriat (when they have positions of power), and let the sub-period of time at the close of Postmodernism be designated the Dictatorship of the Consensoriat

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