It would appear that the catastrophic, mudslide-triggering floodwaters unleashed by Typhoon Rammasun have claimed a most unusual victim: a house-sized rubber duckie.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s 54-foot-tall inflatable art installation that could best be described as being, well, a massive yellow rubber duck, disappeared last week from its mooring on the Namning River in Guiyang, a city in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou.
“The duck flopped over and was flushed away really quickly by the torrential flood. It disappeared right in front of me in several seconds,” recounts Yan Jianxin to China Real Time. Yan goes onto to explain that despite Rubber Duck’s considerable weight of 1 ton and the fact that the sculpture itself was mounted atop a 10-ton metal platform with wires anchoring it to the river bottom, it was simply no match for the torrential rain and surging floodwaters that have ravaged China's southern provinces — and claimed numerous lives — over the past several days.
Yan, who helped to coordinate Rubber Duck’s pit stop in Guiyang during its multi-city Chinese tour, has launched a search party to help find the AWOL sculpture. A local radio station has even urged listeners to join in on the (rubber) duck hunt: “If you live along the river and see an 18-meter tall big yellow duck, please call 5961027.”
A replacement duck is reportedly already en-route to Guiyang from Taiwan in the event that the sculpture is never located or is eventually found but having suffered mortal injuries.
Conceived as a means of “spreading joy across the world,” Hoffman’s Rubber Duck installation — "soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!" — has appeared in various incarnations (and sizes) since first debuting in Amsterdam in 2007. Descendants of the original Rubber Duck have been set afloat in numerous ports of call across the globe including São Paulo (2008), Osaka (2010), Auckland (2012), and Sydney (2013). The globe-trotting duck, which according to Hofman possesses "healing properties" and "doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation," has only made two North American pit stops to date: Pittsburgh in September of 2013 and Norfolk, Virginia, in May of this year.
Prior to arriving in Guiyang, Rubber Duck did a decidedly less eventful three-week stint in Hangzhou, China.
And although last week's unfortunate occurrence in Guiyang marks the first time that the PVC behemoth has been straight-out lost, the duck has experienced other mishaps and misfortunes during its travels.
During Rubber Duck's May 2013 Hong Kong residency, the sculpture, much to the horror of Hong Kong residents, was deflated in the middle of Victoria Harbor. Late last year, it burst while floating in the Taiwanese city of Keelung. Scratch-happy eagles are believed to be responsible for the latter incident while the deflation in Hong Kong was apparently planned by organizers for maintenance reasons. However, Rubber Duck's most tragic moment came in 2009 when he was stabbed 42 times by a deranged rubber duck assassin in Belgium.
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