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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 16:35 GMT
Nappy art work gets Vietnam ban
By Bill Hayton
BBC News, Hanoi

Picture of giant nappy - from artist Truong Tan
The nappy is lined with pockets fastened by police buttons
The Vietnamese authorities have banned from an art exhibition a giant baby's nappy made out of police uniforms.

The sculpture - about two metres high - was on show in Hanoi for two days before officials demanded its removal.

Artist Truong Tan deliberately makes the connection between the absorbent properties of babies' nappies and the pockets of policemen.

The banning is an unusually public example of the struggle between radical artists and the communist authorities.

The work is called Hidden Beauty, and there is no doubt about it - it is a giant nappy, or diaper.

When you go out you have many troubles with the police in the streets and the same in culture, with art
Truong Tan
Vietnamese artist

It is light brown, the same colour as the uniforms of Vietnam's traffic police, and the inside of the nappy is made of dozens of pockets - each fastened by a police button.

"When you go out you have many troubles with the police in the streets and the same in culture, with art," Truong Tan said.

"When you do it in your house, no problem, but when you do it in an exhibition you have a problem with the police."

The nappy was part of an exhibition organised by the German arts foundation, the Goethe Institut, involving both German and Vietnamese artists.

Prior approval

All cultural events in Vietnam need to be approved in advance by the Ministry of Culture - and this one was.

Art exhibition organisers have to send a photo of each work and also a description of it by the artist to the ministry's Art Institute 10 days in advance.

It seems that the organisers of this exhibition only sent in the photograph and not the description so the institute did not realise the meaning of the exhibit.

However a member of police department A-25 - which is in charge of regulating culture - visited the exhibition.

Shortly afterwards the ministry told the management of the gallery that the nappy had not been properly approved and so had to be removed.

There is now an empty space in the exhibition and a very large nappy in Mr Tan's house looking for a new home.

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