A giant rubber duck installed on China’s Nanming River has disappeared. The duck, a sculpture by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, was widely acclaimed and warmly received when it arrived in China, but disappeared swiftly from the waters as the river rose. No one appears to have any indication of where the duck landed.
“The duck flopped over and was flushed away really quickly by the torrent. It disappeared right in front of me in a few seconds,” said Yan Jianxin, who helped bring the duck to China as an art exhibition. The duck had arrived in China on July 4, and weighed around one ton, along with, Yan explained, a more than 10-ton “floating metal platform” affixed to the bottom of the river.
The BBC explains that heavy rains and flooding seem to have taken the duck away, but no one has seen any sign of it. Residents near the flood site have been instructed to phone in to authorities if they see any clues leading to the whereabouts of the rubber duck, which may have landed somewhere intact, deflated, or torn apart.
The Wall Street Journal reports that experts facilitating the duck tour have said this was an unprecedented hiccup in the duck’s tour history. “Mr. Hofman feels very sorry about what happened in Guiyang and he hopes people are safe and all the damage will be repaired very soon,” said a statement from Blue Dragon the marketing company responsible for the duck tour. They also announced that a back-up duck is being constructed in Taiwan and should arrive in two days.
The duck, which received a warm welcome by thousands in Taiwan before heading north to China, spent some months in Taiwan where it sustained injuries such as deflation and an explosion. Previously, Rubber Duck (the proper name of the art exhibition) has also traveled to Holland, France, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Belgium, Australia, the United States, and Azerbaijan. Said Hofman of the exhibition: “It keeps on smiling to you, you know. It says, `don’t you worry, laugh, be happy!'”
Rubber Duck began his or her adventure in Pittsburgh, and was set to visit Beijing in September. Organizers hope to find and repair the duck in time to bring the exhibition north.