Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just when you thought it was safe to go quack in the water

Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck.

Big: Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck, which this year attracted international attention, will again feature in the Sydney Festival. Photo: Tamara Dean

Size matters at the Sydney Festival.

The giant rubber duck that floated in Darling Harbour at this year's festival will appear again in next year's festival with four other big visual arts projects.

The director of the Sydney Festival, Lieven Bertels, confirmed the duck would be one of several giant artworks scattered across the city during the festival, which begins on January 9.

''We own our duck so we are happy to bring it back,'' he said.


Designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the rubber duck attracted international attention when it appeared at this year's Sydney Festival, receiving coverage as far afield as Kazakhstan, Zambia and Russia.

Another giant artwork will take over the vast public foyer of Carriageworks in a tangle of steel piping through which visitors can walk.

Christian Boltanski's Chance features two kilometres of scaffolding, weighing more than 16 tonnes, through which a loop of paper printed with photos of babies faces will run like a printing press. ''Chance will be one of five big visual arts projects that will be accessible for free throughout the festival across greater Sydney, so visual arts do in fact play quite a prominent role in our next festival,'' Mr Bertels said.

He declined to reveal the rest of the visual arts program before the festival's official launch on October 23, but said it would include five large projects by individual artists.

''Besides these there will also be a strong visual arts component in some of the theatre and music we will present, and a number of smaller collaborations with local visual arts presenters,'' he said.

Venue director Lisa Havilah said the installation would cost about $200,000 and that it deals with mortality and looks at the fragility and impermanence of life.

Boltanski is perhaps best known for a macabre bet he made in 2009 with the Tasmanian millionaire and founder of the Museum of Old and New Art, David Walsh.

Boltanski allowed Walsh to film his studio, outside Paris, for 24 hours a day, in return for a monthly fee paid until the artist's death.

If Boltanski lives longer than eight years, Walsh will pay more than the agreed-upon value and lose the bet, according to Richard Flanagan in The New Yorker.

"He has assured me that I will die before the eight years is up, because he never loses,'' Boltanski told Agence France-Presse in 2009.

''He's probably right.''
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