Made with a chainsaw in Slovenia, this folk art sculpture of Melania Trump is already being compared to ‘Beast Jesus’
Is it a scarecrow? A Smurfette? Or simply A shame?
These are some of the reactions to a towering statue of Melania Trump, which appeared on a riverbank in her native Slovenia last week. The rough-hewn version of the First Lady of the United States – the first-ever monument to Melania – has her arm raised, as if waving at her hometown of Sevnica, just a few miles away.
The sculpture, dressed in Ralph Lauren’s robin’s egg blue dress that Trump wore to her husband’s inauguration, was unveiled on July 5 to mixed reviews from locals and the Twittersphere.
Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey commissioned the curious portrayal of the first lady from local pipelayer and folk artist Ales Zupvec, known as Maxi. Downey, who is known for his artistic pranks, views the commission as a work in its own right. The sculpture, chainsaw-carved from a tree trunk, has been compared to the botched restoration known as ‘The Beast Jesus’ and the much ridiculed bust of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Downey maintains that the nine-foot-tall statue, titled Melanie, is a “serious” work of art. The work is part of Downey’s ‘This Echo’ exhibition at the Match Gallery in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. The folk art tribute, along with other works on the show, aim to probe Melania’s connection to her homeland amid her husband’s tough stance on immigration.
“Since the current political situation emerged, I felt compelled to inject a bit of my voice into this narrative,” Downey told the New York Times. “The idea of commissioning the first monument to Melania has a certain cheekiness to it, but I wanted to do some serious investigation there.”
According to the show Press releaseexistential questions about the relationship of the First Lady with her homeland are the basis of the exhibition, visible until August 25: historical fact?
This isn’t the first time locals have capitalized on the First Lady’s Slovenian heritage, however, and the country has seen an increase in tourism and journalist visits as a result. In his hometown there is namesake sausages, wine and cakes dedicated to him.
In his research for the show, Downey visited the hospital where Melania Trump was born. He says he searched the records for someone who was born there around the same time in April, but whose life took a different trajectory. He found Zupevc.
The pipelayer who carves wood in his spare time and is candid about his financial struggles was given carte blanche by Downey, who only specified the coat color and overall size. “She might come and see the thing,” Zupevc said in a video by Downey on the making of Melanie. “She might like that.”
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