Taiwan Goes Quackers

If you are in Taiwan at the moment, you can hardly have failed to notice that the nation is going ape about a duck.

I can’t really justify spending too much time on reporting this apparent mass hysteria, but I suppose it’s one of those so-called cultural happenings that warrant a few observations.

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Anyway, the Dutch conceptual artist, Florentijn Hofman, has been making a bit of a splash with this enormous yellow rubber duck.  It’s now in the port of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan; so, it seems, are most of Taiwan’s 23 million or so citizens.

I heard a piece on the radio the other day, effectively damning the work for its toxicity, what with all the heavy metals, PVC, blah, blah, blah.  Quite so, but I’d be rather more concerned about the enormous carbon footprint, or should I say carbon webbed-footprint, of this monster.  We went to take a look the other day.  We went in 3 cars.  We went on a boat around the harbour, belching out God knows how much diesel exhaust.  We then took 3 taxis to get to the dock side to get up close and personal.  We then took 3 taxis back to the cars.  Of course, we bought helium-filled duck balloons for the children.  We were just a handful among thousands of others doing pretty much the same thing on that particular morning.

I’m an art historian (of sorts) and I’m rather fond of sculpture, especially public sculpture.  I’m not really very confident that I could put a finger on the concept here.  As my wife put it so succinctly, in her best British English accent: “It’s just a bloody great plastic duck!”  Now, there was I thinking “It’s not even a bleedin’ mandarin duck!”  Now that would have been worth seeing.  Mr Hofman, are you listening?

I’m off to see me quack.

If you are unfamiliar with your ducks, here’s the beautiful mandarin:

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