art and contemporary culture in taiwan

What the duck? Giant inflatable comes to Taiwan

OMG. Stand aside Hong Kong, Florentijn Hofman’s 59 foot rubber duck is coming to roost in Taiwan. 

Florentijn Hoffman's 'Rubber Duck' apparently has ambitions of global domination... Image courtesy Florentijn Hoffman Projects.

Florentijn Hoffman’s ‘Rubber Duck’ apparently has ambitions of global domination. Image courtesy Florentijn Hofman Projects.

It may not be great at impressing art world snobs, or indeed at the basic tasks of staying inflated and afloat, but Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck is excellent at grabbing headlines. At this year’s inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong the duck proved the emblem of the event and in some ways the emblem of Hong Kong’s emergence as undisputed art hub of Asia. These days it’s a case of no rubber, no art love.

Now Keelung, north of Taipei, hopes to tap into the Hofman duck’s popularity with a bigger, better version. At 5 feet more expansive than the Hong Kong inflatable, Keelung’s duck will, according to the AFP, ignite “duck fever”. City counselors assure the media this is a good thing, hoping that Rubber Duck will drive tourism to the region as it did during its Hong Kong showing, when fans went on specially orchestrated ‘duck tours’ to see the work.

Although the duck will not reach Keelung’s shores until mid-December 2013, more than 700 welcome messages have already appeared on the ‘Rubber Duck Welcome to Keelung’ Facebook page. The page itself has amassed over 14,000 Likes.

It remains to be seen whether the controversy which stalked the duck in Hong Kong, where the work became entangled in politics over the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, will continue in Keelung. In Hofman’s eyes the duck is not a political animal and should rather act as a “catalyst” to connect people to public art.

Comments on the duck’s Facebook page took a rather more prosaic turn, notes AFP, as Facebookers eschewed matters of politics and art in favour of a discussion on Keelung hygiene. “I hope there won’t be any strange smell when I go to see the duck,” wrote one. “I hope Keelung port will become clean and fresh,” echoed another.

Welcome to Keelung! Please ignore any strange smells and look at this enormous duck instead.

Welcome to Keelung! Please ignore any strange smells and look at this enormous duck instead.

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