A new monument to Melania Trump has been erected in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia, and its creators are calling it the first public statue in commemoration of her. The idea came to Brad Downey, an artist from Kentucky currently based in Berlin according to his Instagram account, who commissioned Sevnica local and “amateur chainsaw sculptor” Ales “Maxi” Zupevc to carve it, according to AFP. According to Downey’s Instagram, the statue will be the subject of a documentary and exhibition he is working on.
JURE MAKOVEC—AFP/Getty ImagesPeople gather around what conceptual artist Ales ‘Maxi’ Zupevc claims is the first ever monument of Melania Trump, set in the fields near the town of Sevnica, US First Lady’s hometown, during a small inauguration celebration on July 5, 2019.JURE MAKOVEC—AFP/Getty ImagesA picture taken on July 5, 2019 shows what conceptual artist Ales ‘Maxi’ Zupevc claims is the first ever monument of Melania Trump, set in the fields near town of Sevnica, the First Lady’s hometown.
Via the artist’s statement Downey has shared online:
“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.
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.”
The statue depicts the First Lady on Inauguration Day in 2017, wearing a blue dress designed by Ralph Lauren and waving at crowds. Zupevc took to a tree and carved the statue with a chainsaw.Pool—Getty ImagesU.S. President Donald Trump waves to supporters along the parade route with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump after being sworn in at the 58th Presidential Inauguration January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Critics of the statue immediately began comparing it to a scarecrow, however. “I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance,” Downey told AFP.
“We in Sevnica can only laugh and, at the same time, hold our heads in our hands over their [the Trumps’] catastrophic reputation,” one local resident identified as Nika, a 24-year-old architecture student, told AFP. Other locals, speaking with the British TV network ITV, described the statue as “a disgrace,” and argued it looked more like Smurfette than the First Lady
AFP reports that Downey came up with the idea as part of a project that explores Melania Trump’s roots both metaphorically and literally. Downey wrote in his Instagram account that he chose to work with Zupevc because he was born in the same year and the same hospital as Melania Trump. He writes that the statue is rooted on the banks of a river facing the town in salute.
Residents have also sold Melania Trump-themed food and merchandize, capitalizing on interest in the town’s claim to fame.JURE MAKOVEC—AFP/Getty ImagesA picture taken on July 5, 2019 shows what conceptual artist Ales Zupevc claims is the first ever monument of Melania Trump, set in the fields near town of Sevnica, the First Lady’s hometown.