Artist Known for Large Rubber Ducks Upset With Protestors’ Large Rubber Duck


Earlier today, Flavorwire reported that Cirque du Soleil is suing Justin Timberlake after his alleged unauthorized sampling of a snippet of a song from their 1997 production, Quidam. But that wasn’t the only major accusation of artistic theft today.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman is known for his gargantuan (6 story) rubber ducks that bestow their “healing functions” on assorted cities throughout the world. But despite being the mind who brought the healing ducks to the public, Hofman’s life itself doesn’t seem to be without conflict: the New York Times reports that the artist is “not amused” with a group of Brazilian protesters who’ve been using a similar large rubber duck to publicize their political concerns for the past two months.

The recently politicized large rubber toy was originally commissioned by FIESP — the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo — for demonstrations against “corruption and high taxes,” according to BBC. It then also began being used in the protests calling for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff following information about government corruption that surfaced through the Lava Jato scandal. (The call for impeachment has largely been supported by the Brazilian right wing in a seeming attempt to rally the middle class rightwards.)

The insinuation of duck-copying might seem farfetched — as the artist himself was of course imitating other, non-skyscraping rubber ducks — but Hofman’s representatives assert that the technical pattern and design are the same as his own. The only superficial differences are the more politically charged duck’s X-ed out eyes and the slogan written across it — which BBC notes translates in English directly to “We won’t pay for the duck any more,” meaning “We won’t pay for what is not our fault any more.” The fact that both ducks were manufactured in the same Brazilian factory (as one of Hofman’s ducks graced Brazil with its joy) doesn’t help matters.

The proprietor of the factory that created one of the artist’s ducks and the similar protest-ready duck said to BBC, “I would not put our reputation at risk. We have experience in this kind of job and this is a very simple design. Why wouldn’t we spend four hours redesigning it?”

Meanwhile, Hofman’s team is allegedly saying that the artist considers it copyright infringement. “Of course we want to emphasize that it is a shame that this parody is used for propaganda,” said his spokesperson Kim Engbers, explaining that the original ducks were never meant to be political.