People take photos of an art installation, dubbed "Double Ducks" by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, which is seen at Victoria Harbour, in Hong Kong, on June 9, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

HONG KONG: Ten years after a giant inflatable yellow duck captivated crowds in Hong Kong, the art installation returned to the city’s Victoria Harbour on Friday as a double-bill exhibition.

The twin 18-metre-tall (59-feet) sculptures by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman are part of the Rubber Duck series that has made appearances in major cities since its 2007 debut.

The faddish artwork previously made headlines in Hong Kong for drawing huge audiences and for accidental deflations, including when it shrank to a flat disk next to a ferry pier in 2013.

Following stormy weather early Friday before they were released onto the water, Hofman joked that the two ducks “took a bath this morning”.

“In a world where we suffered from a pandemic, wars and political situations, I think it is the moment to bring back the double luck,” he said.

'It’s a form of flashback'

Setting sail in front of Hong Kong’s landmark Convention and Exhibition Centre, the mighty ducks moved through the harbour before stopping to nest near the city government’s headquarters.

Office workers strolled by during lunch breaks to snap selfies, while others carried yellow duck balloons to celebrate the sunny duo’s new perch.

“I think it’s very good to have the duck back after 10 years because it is simple happiness, especially after the pandemic,” one admirer named Vivian told AFP.

“It’s a form of flashback,” said 32-year-old bank employee Zenj. “I think it brings luck.”

During its 2013 visit to Hong Kong, the solo lemon-hued bird ruffled feathers in Beijing after internet users edited the famous “Tank Man” photo from the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown by replacing the tanks with ducks.

Internet searches for “yellow duck” were banned in mainland China in the run-up to June 4 that year, the anniversary of the crackdown, as Beijing forbids discussion of the day Chinese troops crushed demonstrations.

Even after Hofman’s duck exhibitions slowed in the mid-2010s, the creature has found new life as an inadvertent protest symbol in Brazil, Russia and most recently Thailand.