11 Jun

Follow up to WHAT THE DUCK? When the Chinese Communist Party talks more sense than many art wonks about the real (i.e. non monetary) value of contemporary art, things are really screwed. It’s a bit like Hitler telling you to cool it with the anti–Semitism. The People’s Daily newspaper, effectively a sock puppet for the Party, recently issued an editorial in which it praised artist Florentijn Hofman’s wildly popular 16m tall duck installation in the bay at Hong Kong, while also firmly castigating the flood of copycat inflatables as “kitsch and unoriginal”. Kitsch and unoriginal are also pretty good descriptors of the Chinese commercial art world in general, which has been blindly hyped in the West in recent years.

Unoriginal art “will ruin our creativity and our future and lead to the loss of imagination eventually,” according to the People’s Daily. “The more yellow ducks are there, the further we are from Hofman’s anti-commercialization spirit, and the more obvious is our weak creativity,” it said. “It’s good that the rubber duck is popular, but it’s sad to see the innovation of our country to go down. We often talk about awareness and confidence in our own culture, but where do they come from?”

Giant Rubber Duck Given As A Gift In China

Fake Duck in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province. Bonus fake mini Arc de Triomphe!

The clones in question have appeared like a rash in third or fourth tier cities like Hangzhou, Wuhan and Tianjin as a shortcut for property developers selling the myth of a Hong Kong-esque lifestyle to the nouveau riche of mainland China. A 2m copy of Hofman’s duck can be had for 2,800 yuan (£290/€340), one the size of the original costs 118,000 yuan (£12,380/€14,490), and if you want to supersize it in truly vulgar, in-your-face, loadsamoney Chinese style a 20m tall giant copy costs 149,800 yuan (£15,700/€18,400).

Fake Duck by a magazine stall in Shanghai because… reasons.

A particularly shoddy replica capsizes in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.

PS: To further plumb the depths of China’s kitsch and unoriginality, read my post about visiting Shenzhen’s Dafen Painting Village, where any painting ever made can be copied and re-painted perfectly to order.

PPS: I shall be spending an unreasonable amount of time this afternoon exploring the site of KK Inflatable Factory (formerly Seven Star inflatable manufacturing factory and the Inflatable King Co. Ltd.) which is based somewhere in Guangzhou’s vast industrial megacity hinterland. It’s one of the Chinese manufacturers of the unoriginal and kitsch inflatable duck replicas. Can’t write any more now, must browse bouncy castles.



  1. Alistair 11/06/2013 at 2:03 PM #

    I just had a thought… why are bouncy castles always castles? In other words, how did “bouncy castle” become a recognisable genre of object with a standard shape and features? I’m guessing the towers are structural and help it to stay upright and relatively rigid, but why the skuomorphic remnants of medieval European defensive emplacements?

  2. Alistair 17/06/2013 at 10:52 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

  3. paintlater 17/06/2013 at 11:02 PM #

    Great post Alistair, I think the giant inflated poo that collapsed recently just summed it all up. Cheers.

    • Alistair 17/06/2013 at 11:29 PM #

      I don’t know what the “giant inflated poo” is, but I’m most definitely not going to Google it.

      • paintlater 17/06/2013 at 11:36 PM #

        Ha! I think it was at the Hong Kong Art Fair.

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