Jeff Koons Must Die: '80s arcade game themed art piece in which you shoot Koons' work

Boing Boing pal Syd Garon points us to a wacky piece of arcade-themed art by Hunter Jonakin called "Jeff Koons Must Die."

"It's a 80's style video cabinet with a first-person-shooter game he created, where you run around a museum shooting Jeff Koons' work," says Syd. "It's pretty fucking awesome. Koons comes out to stop you, Big Boss style. I love that you end up fighting an endless wave of lawyers." From Jonakin's website:

The game is set in a large museum during a Jeff Koons retrospective. The viewer is given a rocket launcher and the choice to destroy any of the work displayed in the gallery. If nothing is destroyed the player is allowed to look around for a couple of minutes and then the game ends. However, if one or more pieces are destroyed, an animated model of Jeff Koons walks out and chastises the viewer for annihilating his art. He then sends guards to kill the player. If the player survives this round then he or she is afforded the ability to enter a room where waves of curators, lawyers, assistants, and guards spawn until the player is dead. In the end, the game is unwinnable, and 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, to name a few.


  1. Is that a NSFW picture hanging on the wall? It looks like a guy holding his genitals standing over a naked woman.. or maybe I’m just a bit blind. Oh well, I didn’t like this job anyway.

  2. There’s some rather NSFW imagery in the second image there.

    As for Koons: Why the hate? I don’t know much of anything about him, but a google search seems to suggest that he makes weird, rather dull art. Is there a backstory I’m unaware of?

    1. “…Why the hate…he makes weird, rather dull art…”

      That’s what lays at the heart of the Jeff Koons conundrum. The more we dislike him, the more important he becomes, hence the more power he gains.

      He hires drones to create the artworks for him, then sells it at a hefty price. A popular theory is that it was never about the artworks in the first place, but rather a social experiment all along. All we can know for certain is that the flow of money is real.

      Like it said on a tin: It’s a game you can’t win.

      1. He doesn’t hire drones at all. He hires highly skilled craftsmen. I know a couple of the guys here in the US that used to make some of his work (It’s all done in Germany now). They are some of the best metalworkers you would ever care to meet. One of the guys I know even went to a top notch art school. The work in stainless steel is incredibly difficult, especially the polishing. I remember watching them sand and thought,”wow that’s a crazy hand-held belt sander. I’ve never seen one of those before.” Only to find out the reason I had never seen one was because they had designed and built it just to sand one of his pieces and get the curve perfect. Fucking drones indeed, pfft.

    2. Yes, you missed he’s a self centered,self promoting, rip off artist. He used a photo taken by a local newspaper photog in Marin county of a farm couple holding two armloads of puppies for his kitchy work, making tons of money while ripping off the photographer.
      He photographed himself with a famous Italian prostitute who won a seat in the parliament, both in the nude and totally not erotic because they’re both phonies who want the camera to look at them, they don’t look at each other.
      There are other stories, but the latest is Koons wants to copyright balloon dogs because he paid someone to make a sculpture of said balloon dog. So now he thinks he owns balloon dogs? Don’t get me started on his Michael Jackson piece. Do some homework. Use your brain. You never know where researching one topic will take you.

    1. Thanks for the link, Brian S. I am now on the anti-Koons side of all this.

      I’m not much of a gamer, but I’d like to see a game in which someone like this is defeated by mocking laughter.

  3. Since his site doesn’t seem to say, I’m curious what the game engine was created with… is it a Half-Life: Source Mod (maybe Garry’s Mod) or what?

  4. … an animated model of Jeff Koons walks out and chastises^h^h^h sues the viewer for annihilating^h^h^h referencing his art.

  5. There’s little I hate more than people building “arcade cabinets” with computer monitors slapped in place of a proper arcade CRT. They just look AWFUL and make me question what the builder was thinking; why spend all that hard work making a cabinet and then use a rubbish screen?

    PC CRTs are bad enough, but you should NEVER, ever, ever, ever, ever use an LCD.

  6. Why does everyone hate Jeff Koons? I think his work is actually really good. I remember seeing an exhibit of his floating basketballs and metal vacuum cleaners and bunnies when I was a kid, made a big impression on me.


    I am all pumped up to experience this piece of art now but THERE IS NOTHING TO DOWNLOAD

  8. According to what I just read here, there is a way to win. You don’t blow anything up, but instead have a brief look around the virtual gallery before exiting the game.

    It seems like a lesson in how quickly we can be dragged into a simpleton’s web. All it takes is one misstep or cathartic destruction of something and that’s it: you’re now no longer in control. You’re just another part of the simpleton’s endless drive for drama and profiteering.

  9. First of all, thanks to Boing Boing for posting my work. I’m a big fan. : )

    Planetom, I used UDK for the game. Alvis, my apologies to all of the arcade cabinet purists. I had several reasons for not using a CRT, but I did consider it. Ultimately, the cabinet serves as a placeholder, and is not a pure throwback. TEKNA2007, I hope not, but we’ll see.

    Regarding game mechanics, you can walk around and not blow anything up, but the game ends after a couple of minutes. Or, you can destroy work and deal with the Jeff Koons minions. You are never able to even shoot at Jeff Koons in the game (he is always on a second story balcony, and the player can only shoot parallel to the first floor. The video was created on my PC and is a little misleading in regards to that actuality).

    Lastly, I actually LIKE Jeff Koons’s art. I think he is a very intelligent, and savvy business person. I used him as subject matter because he is so polarizing and his work is so fun to look at. The title is purposely overly inflammatory but I wish Jeff Koons no ill will. I defy anyone to walk into a gallery and NOT look at one of those balloon dogs. They are pretty amazing.

    Thanks for the feedback. I hope this answers some questions.

  10. Among the many, many great moments of Robert Hughes’ American Visions is Hughes manfully restraining himself from laughing in Koon’s face:

  11. I’m not a Koons fan, but I have to wonder what it would look like, after so much belly-aching over Palin’s “Target-map,” for this site if Koons’ art, or the man himself, gets seriously injured by some psycho with a grudge. I agree that games with a destructive edge towards things we dislike are entertaining, but these are the thing to remember when we start complaining about the violence the right-wingers espouse.

    1. @Anon #20

      Except that there’s a massive gulf of difference between the two things.

      One is a real life politician talking seriously to real life constituents about “targeting” real life political opponents, with the intent of undermining their real life efforts and winning a real life political struggle.

      The other is a virtual game world in which a virtual player character has the virtual choice of destroying virtual works of art with a virtual rocket launcher, and then must face the virtual consequences of virtual Jeff Koons and his virtual legal forces – a virtual fate which cannot be virtually escaped.

      If anything, a game like this would probably work to PREVENT an attack on Koons or his work because anyone who doesn’t like the man could simply take out their dislike on him virtually, perhaps even laughing about it all, and no actual harm would be done. If we’ve learned anything about violence and anger in the history of psychology, it’s that a healthy outlet for venting anger does wonders for preventing people from actually snapping and doing real damage.

      ~D. Walker

  12. Did you use a staff of 100 people to build it? And I hope you color mapped each surface to exact specifications of the artist? And hopefully Sotheby’s will fetch you a handsome sum for this.

  13. Do you guys not remember the 80s? Video games did not look like this in the 80s. Mid-to-late 90s at least.

    Also, people hate Jeff Koons because his entire schtick is “Isn’t it amazing that I can produce crap like that and force people to confront the value in my art?” He rubs the crappiness of his subject matter in our faces. Sorry Jeff, that just makes it well-executed crap.

    1. Yup, that’s why I hate his work. The game, however, sounds thought-provoking and genuinely funny – two adjectives long misapplied to Koons work, which simply reworks ideas long milked dry by Duchamp, Warhol and Liechtenstein.

  14. fantastic. The museums and art galleries are pretty much the equivalent of what the record labels used to be– too big to fail elitist clubs with a strangle hold on distribution– and they need to be taken down about 20 notches, especially Koons, who is, whats the term, a douchebag. Sure he’s got talent, But he’s mostly a shmoozer, a player and a user. He’s got shtick certainly, but his succes is grotesquely out of proportion to his talent.

  15. Went to the Koons exibition in Edinburgh the other day,but duing to lack of funds, decided to make free balloon dogs (donation accepted) in the hope of gaining admittance.Gave away 10 dogs
    then one couple bought me a ticket on the provsio that I signed my balloon!
    It was a bit shit.

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