Duck Looms Over Tel Aviv

By Naomi Felice Wonnenberg

Published June 26, 2008, issue of July 04, 2008.
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Dudu Geva may have left us, but his duck spirit quacks on. The late artist was tired of failed urban architecture in Tel Aviv — the so-called “White City,” which is actually more crumbling yellowish than white. The artist proposed a “duck-ization” of Israel’s cultural metropolis.

DAFFY: A massive rubber duck was placed on the roof of city hall in Tel Aviv. The bird was the brainchild of artist Dudu Geva.
DAFFY: A massive rubber duck was placed on the roof of city hall in Tel Aviv. The bird was the brainchild of artist Dudu Geva.

“My initiative stems from the fact that the city is lost,” Geva wrote in 2003 in the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha’Ir. “Tel Aviv is so ugly that you need to erase entire streets and start from scratch. At least let us decorate and celebrate in the streets. The city hall is a lost building. If a giant duck were placed on its roof, everything would change.”

The cartoon duck was a trademark of the artist, who died unexpectedly in 2005. During Geva’s career, which spanned more than three decades, his cartoons, drawings and illustrations appeared in many leading Israeli newspapers. Along with artist Yuval Caspi, Geva’s two children took it upon themselves to realize their father’s dream.

In a festive ceremony, the duck was placed on the rooftop of the city hall building at Rabin Square this spring. A huge air pump breathed life and soul into the bird’s rubber body, which is about 32 feet tall. Caspi recalled the “historic moment” when “the duck stretched its legs, raised its head and beak and, finally, stretched its chest and let its yellow legs dangle off the edge of the gray building.”

The public seems to share Caspi’s enthusiasm. Originally, the duck was to remain on the building for one month, but when it was time for it to deflate, protests broke out and the will of the people was heard: Geva’s bird has been granted a prolonged tenure. In a recent meeting, the municipality elected it as the city’s centennial mascot. So, duck lovers can rest assured that their beloved bird will continue to nod to the sweating crowds below in 2009.


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