“Jeff Koons must die!!!”, arcade-themed art

Jeff Koons must die!!!

What if you were locked in an art museum overnight with a rocket launcher, during a Jeff Koons retrospective? What would you do? You would have two options: to either stroll around the virtual museum and observe a retrospective of Jeff Koons’s artwork, or open fire and burn all of the art pieces down to the ground.  This at least is what the multimedia American artist Huner Jonakin suggests with his metaphorical artwork “Jeff Koons must die!!!”. It is wacky piece of arcade-themed art, a first-person shooter set in a large museum during Koons’ exhibition where the player has the choice to blow the postmodern classics to smithereens with his weapon. If one or more pieces are destroyed, an animated model of Jeff Koons walks out and rebukes the viewer for annihilating his art. He then sends guards to kill the player. If the player survives this round he is then allowed to enter a room where waves of curators, lawyers, assistants, and guards spawn until the player is dead. Developed with UDK framework the game is housed in an arcade cabinet modeled after a Q*bert machine from 1982; viewers must insert their twenty-five cents coin to play the game with a joystick and two buttons. This quintessentially arcade shape gives a playful tone against a fairly extreme title. But why all this hate against Koons? Jonakin clarifies it is just a narrative trick. Pop artist Jeff Koons’ recreations of everyday objects been both critically appraised and reviled over the artist’s career. They have been called “one last, pathetic gasp of the sort of self-promoting hype and sensationalism that characterized the worst of the decade,” as well as an “eye-popping visual blast”. For Jonakin the unwinnable game “acts as a comment on the fine art studio system, museum culture, art and commerce, hierarchical power structures, and the destructive tendencies of gallery goers”.

Valentina Culatti