China’s copycat architecture trend has already been well documented – but we never expected the country’s imitators to start replicating gigantic rubber ducks! Florentijn Hofman‘s giant, inflatable yellow duck has graced ports and harbors across the globe – however its fame has made it the latest target for Chinese counterfeiters. Ever since the 54-foot friendly fowl arrived in Hong Kong, cities across the mainland have sprouted their own unofficial versions. Dubious imposter ducks have shown up in Dongguan, wearing a blue hair bow and long eyelashes; Xi’an, where it was housed behind metal gates; and a duck has been promised to appear in Wuhan next.
The arrival of Florentijn Hofman‘s duck at Wuhan was not sanctioned by the artist. A local newspaper mistakenly reported that the bird’s arrival was a part of an agreement between a Chinese real-estate developer for Country Garden and the duck’s creator. When a spokeswoman invited reporters from China Real Time to visit the installation, she declined to comment on whether or not the duck was the real deal.
“I’ve always said the rubber duck is a yellow catalyst,” Hofman said. “Right now what it is showing is that there is a lack of trust in China, and that is an enormous problem . . . If I was a Chinese person, I would revolt. I would really revolt,” he said. “This kills society, this kind of behavior.”
In a country where many travel to large cities to ensure what they are purchasing is authentic, Hofman’s duck is a bright, looming symbol of China’s obsession with appearance over true provenance. It brings to mind questions of authenticity in the domains of manufacturing and art, and whether or not ideas and designs can truly be owned by an individual. Regardless, giant ducks continue to multiply in China without the approval of the original creator.