In China, Counterfeiters Knock off the Giant, Peaceful, Rubber Duckie
Remember that amazing, massive blow up rubber duckie that took over Hong Kong's harbor earlier this month? Well, it's still floating there until June 9, attracting millions of tourists who have come to view the spectacle created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. But it seems this artist's unique work has also mysteriously popped up all over China, in just as giant proportions, thanks to counterfeiters who have cloned the big bath toy. The yellow duck has now appeared in Xi'an, Dongguan, and soon Wuhan, with the cities claiming they have made an arrangement with the artist to show the piece.
China has a history of shanzhai—slang for knock-offs—from handbags and clothing to electronics, and even Apple stores, but this appears to be the first time that hackers have remade an original work of art. And the creator is not happy about it. “The rumors are false,” Hofman told the Wall Street Journal. “If people want the real duck, they have to come to me." He continued, "I’ve always said the rubber duck is a yellow catalyst. 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 the art world, copyright and appropriation are issues being debated as far up as the Supreme Court; and counterfeit problems have long been rampant in China, so this moment shouldn't come as a huge surprise. But one would think if there were any work of art to try and get away with copying, it would be anything other than a 54-foot bright yellow floating duck.