A 54-foot tall inflated duck, the trademark creation of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, is on the run after disappearing from a river in China’s southwestern Guiyang city, where it was being displayed for locals.
On Wednesday evening, after floating peacefully for a couple weeks, the duck was lashed by a heavy storm. “The duck flopped over and was flushed away really quickly by the torrential flood. It disappeared right in front of me in several seconds,” Yan Jianxin, who helped coordinate the duck exhibition on behalf of a local company, told China Real Time.
In recent days, floods have hit cities in central and southwestern China, killing at least 32 and displacing tens of thousands. Still, given the size of the duck, some were surprised it too was susceptible.
“The duck itself weighed around one ton, together with its over 10-ton floating metal platform, and several steel wires fixing it to the bottom of the river,” said Mr. Yan. All those preparations, though, “didn’t stop it from being flushed away by the flood.”
So far, Mr. Yan’s duck hunt hasn’t achieved anything yet. But other locals have also joined in the search, with one local radio station urging people on Weibo to step up the hunt, saying, “If you live along the river and see an 18-meter tall big yellow duck, please call 5961027.”
“This never happened in the duck’s tour history,” said Yu-Mei Sung, marketing specialist from Blue Dragon, a Taipei-based art company which she said is responsible for facilitating the tour of Mr. Hofman’s duck throughout China.
“Mr. Hofman feels very sorry about what happened in Guiyang and he hopes people are safe and all the damage will be repaired very soon,” Blue Dragon added in a later statement.
A back-up duck order from an authorized Taiwan maker is on the way and is expected to arrive in two days, just in case the missing one is never found or is unrepairable when found, according to Ms. Sung.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Hofman’s duck has suffered hiccups in China. Last May, the giant duck deflated into a forlorn yellow puddle during its exhibition in Hong Kong, prompting an anguished outcry across social media around the world.