While Americans were busy celebrating the Fourth of July, Slovenia was busy honoring America’s first lady. Her home country did this with help from a wooden statue of Melania Trump, which got Twitter, and her hometown, talking. Specifically, about who it looks like, since many don’t believe it looks anything like Trump.
The chainsaw-carved statue, which stands on the outskirts of Sevnica, was unveiled on Friday, according to the New York Times, and almost immediately, the reactions were mixed. For the statue, commissioned by Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey and created by local Slovenian artist Ales “Maxi” Zupevc, Trump is wearing the powder blue suit by Ralph Lauren Collection she wore at President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The wooden version is waving her left hand just as the real Trump did on that day, but that’s where the likeness seems to end.
Since the artist used a chainsaw to cut the statue out of a tree trunk, the face is not quite as detailed as one would have hoped. This includes the man who carved the statue, who was born in the same year and in the same hospital as Melania. “I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance,” Zupevc told AFP.
View this post on Instagram
currently on view at “Slow Motion Disasters“ my exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien ——————————————————————- “Melania” 2019, Sevenica, Slovenia Digital video 12:11 min ___________________________________________________ “Brad Downey’s new ongoing project ”Melania” is a documentary film consisting of several parts about the construction of a monument of Melania Trump, carved into a tree that is still rooted in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia. The current First Lady of the USA was born on April 26, 1970 in Novo mesto in the then Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. The sculpture of the president’s wife is made by a local pipe layer and amateur chainsaw sculptor named Maxi. Both Maxi and Melania were born on the same year in the same hospital, but their lives have taken drastically different directions. For the film, Downey and his team spent several months filming interviews with Maxi along with locations around the town. The result is a personal portrait of Maxi and his thoughts about Slovenia, the USA, Europe, immigration and class division. Through these interviews the film attempts to capture the spirit of Slovenia, which seems to be mirrored in Maxi’s interactions with his family, environment and his feelings about art, God, love, and country. By focusing on one working class man’s portrayal of a public and internationally known personality, the film offers insights on local and global problems and policies illuminated by the USA and Europe and beyond.” Text: @dna_ia @kunstraumkreuzberg curated by Stéphane Bauer, Nadia Pilchowski and Sylvia Sadzinski thanks: Aljaž Celarc , Miha and Jaka Erjavec @dna_ia @sylv_inski @stephanebauerb Photo: Eric Tschernow #firstlady #slovenia #sevnica #AljažCelarc #immigration #refugees
But Downey told ABC News that he wanted “an artistic investigation of Mrs. Trump through her native region. And I wanted a self-taught local artist whose work followed the folk tradition." According to Downey’s Instagram, the “monument of Melania Trump” is the subject of an upcoming documentary and exhibition.
For Downey, the statue was supposed to be a political statement against the U.S. president. "I was inspired to do something about this anti-immigration narrative coming from Donald Trump," he told ABC News. "It is a blatant contradiction to have a president, who is married to a [legal] immigrant, make stopping immigration a cornerstone of his presidency."
Still, a leaflet advertising the statue questions whether it is a joke or not. “Perhaps we are simply trying vigorously to make sense of things that might only be a slapstick prank,” it states. “Who knows?” The locals didn’t have much nice to say about the statue either. One said Trump's statue looked like "Smurfette," according to BBC News. Another called it a “disgrace,” while someone else deemed it a “scarecrow.”
But, a local told Reuters that she actually liked the statue for what it stood for. “You know what makes her resemble Melania?” she said in a video at the unveiling. “Look at how high she climbed to the top, just like Melania, who rose to the top of America.”
And now Trump also stands on the top of a tree stump in her hometown, waving to all those who come to visit her.