Ode to a Rubber Duckie

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Filed under: Art Pranks

0000200.jpgWhy a giant duck?
This summer, why not?

by Edward M. Gomez
July 11, 2007

There are moments during the long watch of the most avid newshound, brief though they may be, when the pain of injustice, the horrors of war and the spectacle of self-serving, deceitful political chicanery recede from consciousness – if not, unfortunately, from the headlines – just long enough for the savoring of a little unexpected, unabashed joy.

So it is that, in some European news media, mirth-provoking photos have been popping up in the past few days of an object – a big object – that has quickly become the signature attraction of “Loire Estuary 2007,” an outdoor, contemporary-art exhibition in France featuring works by 30 artists from around the world. Their creations have been installed along a 40-mile corridor at the mouth of the Loire River, stretching from Saint-Nazaire, on France’s Atlantic coast, to Nantes, which lies inland.

The smile-provoking concoction that’s responsible for this little shot of joy in a global-warming-heated summer, against a backdrop of war chaos and political cant, is a giant rubber duckie created by the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. After wrestling with some air-inflating problems, his 105-foot-tall, 85-foot-wide “Rubber Duck” finally took to the sea (that is, to the estuary) last weekend – and that’s no canard.

In theory, no one should be able to say exactly where the giant bird may be found at any given time in the waters of the art-exhibition zone, since, after all, it floats. But how to miss seeing a giant duck that is, the region’s newspaper, Ouest France, notes, like a “poem…or rather a fable,” that of the duck “who wanted to be bigger than an elephant”? Never mind that some visitors passing through the art zone on sightseeing vessels have not been able to see some of the participating artists’ site-specific creations because of obstructive trees and foliage. Jean Blaise, the director of “Loire Estuary 2007,” points out that it will be “up to the public to go and find it” – Hofman’s oversize duck. With this adventure in mind, he says: “A duck hunt has been organized – unintentionally.”

Describing viewers’ reactions to his work, artist Hofman writes on his personal Web site: “A yellow spot on the horizon slowly approaches the coast. People…watch in amazement as a giant, yellow, rubber duck approaches. The spectators are greeted by the duck, which slowly nods its head. The ‘Rubber Duck’ knows no frontiers; it doesn’t discriminate…and doesn’t have a political connotation.” It has “healing properties,” Hofman observes. He gushes: “The ‘Rubber Duck’ is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!”

Since “Loire Estuary 2007” opened, on June 1, some 240,000 visitors have trekked through the Nantes-Saint-Nazaire corridor in search of the artworks on view. The event will run through September 1. (Le Monde)


via Wooster Collective