Whitney Biennial 2017 review by Lt. Torres(Klingon) of the Starship Voyager

  By order of Captain Kathryn Janeway, I, hereby submit this report on the 2017 survey of human art in the Earth nation USA. The reason for this order, which I still fail to fully understand was to enlighten me regarding human aesthetics, an area of considerable interest for Lt. Torres(human).

Of course, I am Lt. Torres(Klingon) and don’t share my human counterpart’s new found interest. Since Lt. B’Elanna Torres (half-human and half- Klingon) was abducted by the Vidiian scientist Sulan and split into two full blooded humanoids, one earth human and one, myself, Klingon we have each continued to serve the starship Voyager sharing the quarters for just one Starfleet officer. Once, we shared the same body, but now are less
than ideal roommates. Unfortunately, the human Torres has lost any of her Klingon traits, qualities that earned her chief engineer of the USS Voyager.  Instead, she prefers painting and creating assemblages from spare warp engine parts. While these may be normal human pastimes, they are not fitting for a Starfleet officer. Nevertheless, the captain thinks I could gain from a visit to the Holodeck’s 21st century exhibitions archives.

I must commend the Holodeck programmers for their attention to detail.  No sooner had i arrived in the lobby of the Whitney Museum in April of 2017, when I smelled fresh Scrag from the meat truck wafting through the lobby. I had to exit the Museum momentarily, and try a “combo platter”.  Ascending to the 5th floor, I confront a very large painting entitled “Elevator” by Dana Schutz.

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Dana Schutz’s “Elevator”

This work resembles, in its color and gesture the great battle of Qam-Chee as it has been depicted by our great artisans for centuries, however in her piece there is no clear victor. Schutz’s painting was the first of many in this sprawling exhibition whose primary effect was a rich interplay of vibrant color. Others in this ‘aesthetic’ group include Shara Hughes and Tala Madani.

I think human Torres would find their works inspiring. Notable among the sculptural works are the elegeic assemblages of Jessi Reaves.  No human, in my memory, has come so close to describing the Klingon afterlife of Sto-Vo- Kor. For this reason, although impossible, I can’t help but suspect she may be part Klingon. I lingered here for quite awhile among the plastic membranes and inky tentacles, hoping someday to return to the Alpha Quadrant and my beloved home world, Kronos.

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My Klingon home world Kronos

Remarkable too, is the preponderance of photography and video
throughout the exhibition. Klingons never developed indexical forms of
representation in art. To my species such methods do a disservice to our
great ancestry by replacing the Klingon voice with that of a machine.
Despite my aversion to such technology in art, I must admit, humans have
found ways of making the camera’s eye convey an honor and dignity of
individuals. This quality is especially true in the work of Deanna Lawson,
An-My Le, and Lyle Ashton Harris.

Among the many other works exhibited, too many to name here, was a preoccupation with issues of race, gender, inequality, and injustice. Humans in the early 21st century felt art should speak to these societal problems, an admirable ideal, but perhaps not very effective. Amidst this messaging, Frances Stark posits, in a suite of paintings, the pages of Ian Svenonius’ 2015 book “Censorship Now”, in which Svenonius argues art’s irrelevance in a climate of free speech. This reads as an act of sabotage against the politically oriented works, and leaves only the most formal ones unscathed.

On Kronos, we established gender equality in the 10th century, we have only
one race, Klingon, and our system of justice is infallible thanks to the
wisdom of the High Council. Klingon art celebrates our ancestors and their
great achievements.

Here in the Delta Quadrant some 70,000 light years from Federation Space,
we regularly encounter cultures with rich art traditions, but never ones who
have so deeply internalized the social and political conflicts of their age as
did the art milieu of Earth’s 21st century. By the same token none of these
cultures wrestled with the diversity extant in human civilization. Perhaps
this period of tension and turmoil on Earth sowed the seeds for the unique
capacity of humans today to lead the United Federation of Planets, a
federation of more than 150 worlds and humanoid species.

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