“Jeff Koons Must Die!!!“, Hunter Jonakin, 2011
Multi-Media artist Hunter Jonakin has created a videogame art piece by the name of “Jeff Koons Must Die!!!” Wrapped in a classic, coin-operated, 80’s arcade-style case, the format of this game is a first person shooter that takes place in a Koons retrospective. The player can either walk around and view the art for a few minutes before the game ends or destroy the artwork, get reprimanded by an animated Koons and then battle waves of his guards, assistants, and lawyers to the death. Either way, you don’t win. Jonakin picked Koons as the subject of the game due to the fact that he is such a controversial figure in art, eliciting a love him or hate him reaction from most viewers.
We here at Peanut Butter Oven happen to fall firmly in the love camp. His ultra-kitsch and often vulgar artwork is jam-packed with ideas that work within the alienating and exclusive language of contemporary art through expanding on and referencing ideas presented by Duchamp, Oldenberg, Warhol and others… yet one also gets the sense that he’s making fun of it all, commenting on the relative absurdity and exploiting collectors. Nevertheless, Koons denies creating his art as any sort of commentary or critique on contemporary art with a completely bright-eyed and innocuous earnestness. This is what really pisses some people off (well… that and the fact that he never actually touches his own work), but quite frankly, that’s what sweetens the deal for me. Of course, having said all this, I’d still love to rocket launcher the bejesus out of both his artwork and his cronies in this game… but who wouldn’t?
Jonakin states on his website that the game provides commentary on the “fine art studio system, museum culture, art and commerce, hierarchical power structures, and the destructive tendencies of gallery goers, to name a few.” Part of me wishes that Jonakin took a bit of a Koonsian approach to this piece and denied any sort of commentary or critique. He also could have scaled it up about 5-10 times (again, a la Koons), but you know… that’s not what he did, so it’s probably not worth mentioning. Nevertheless, parallels can still be drawn between Koons’ body of work and this one. While Koons (despite his own denial) seems hell-bent on making fun of the art world and destroying it from the inside, Jonakin’s piece “Jeff Koons Must Die!!!” does the same thing, albeit on a virtual platform… and a bit more literally.
Have a look at the videogame here: