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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 13:45 GMT
Dustmen sent to school after binning art
Nicht Innen Sondern Aussen - Nicht Drinnen Sondern Draussen
The sculpture was intended not to look like art
Three German refuse collectors are to be sent on an Art Appreciation Course after accidentally taking down and incinerating a sculpture in Frankfurt, believing it was rubbish.

The binmen mistakenly destroyed part of a city-wide exhibition of installations entitled Nicht Innen Sondern Aussen - Nicht Drinnen Sondern Draussen, or Not Interior But Exterior - Not Inside But Outside.

The sculpture, 10 metres long and 2.5 metres high, was made of folded and cut plastic.

"It was one of about 10 sculptures, placed all around Frankfurt," the sculptures' creator, Michael Beutler told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"This one was in the east end of Frankfurt, on a traffic island, an area where you can see a lot of trash flying about.

"But this sculpture didn't look like trash."

Vanishing sculptures

Beutler explained that the sculptures are all made from yellow plastic, used for construction, such as for pouring concrete into buildings.

"It's very easy to handle, and you can make big, spontaneous structures to deal with it," he said.

"It's quite a new material, so it has kind of a strange look."

Gustav Metzger's Recreation of the First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art
Artist Gustav Metzger saw an exhibit at the Tate Britain binned last year
Beutler said that he receives the material flat, and makes folds and cuts to assemble the sculpture.

"It is in between abstraction and something figurative," he added.

"It had a little of a public playground in it - you could see kind of a snake, or something like that, in it."

The artist conceded that it was possible he had been almost too successful, as his aim was to create something so real, it would not be seen as art.

This was the third of city-wide installations to have gone missing. The exhibition now has only seven structures left.

"The difference is that when this one went missing, we knew who it was - the person who had dismantled it," Beutler explained.

"He recognised it was himself and said something about it, which was quite nice."

The disappearing sculptures had brought the artist great publicity in Germany.

And he said that he had no ill feeling towards the refuse collectors at all.

"I thought it was quite funny that they took it away.

"I wasn't shouting or angry at all."

The binmen's art lessons will be in Frankfurt school that Beutler himself attended.

"It's a very good school," he said.

"I'm OK with their opinion. It wasn't written on that it is art - there was no sign saying something about it."

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