Melania Trump tree statue gets mixed reviews in her Slovenian hometown

Written by Matthew Robinson, CNN

Melania Trump has made a surprise reappearance near her Slovenian hometown of Sevnica, emerging coming from a tree stump within the form of a rustic wood statue.
While the sleepy town of 5,000 has profited coming from its most famous daughter — placing itself firmly on the tourist trail, selling a range of Melania-themed products including honey, chocolate as well as cake — the US first lady’s latest reincarnation has divided opinion.

US artist Brad Downey commissioned the life-size statue coming from local chainsaw sculptor Ales Zupevc, better known as Maxi, who was born within the same year as well as same hospital as the first lady, however whose life took a very different path.

The creation of the sculpture forms part of a documentary filmed by Downey, which was presented as part of his latest exhibition, “Slow Motion Disasters,” at the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien gallery in Berlin. The documentary will also be shown at his exhibition within the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

Locals gathered to view the sculpture, which will be located near Melania Trump's hometown of Sevnica.

Locals gathered to view the sculpture, which will be located near Melania Trump’s hometown of Sevnica. Credit: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

For the film, Downey spent several months filming interviews with Maxi around the town, creating an intimate impression of the first lady’s roots within the alpine country, as well as the life of an individual still living there, he told CNN.

“I don’t know her personally, however she’s my age,” Maxi says within the film. “We were both born in April. All the more reason to make the statue. Being born the same year, the same month. She might come as well as see the thing. She might like that will.”

Maxi acknowledges the sharp divergence of his as well as Melania’s lives, despite the fact they came coming from the same humble roots. “Let’s face that will, she owns half of America while I have nothing,” he says.

Nadia Pilchowski, a curator at the gallery, notes that will the film offers a “personal portrait of Maxi as well as his thoughts about Slovenia, the USA, Europe, immigration as well as 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 as well as his feelings about art, God, love as well as country,” she writes in a foreword to the exhibition.

“By focusing on one working class man’s portrayal of a public as well as internationally known personality, the film offers insights on local as well as global problems as well as policies illuminated by the USA as well as Europe as well as beyond.”

The local chainsaw sculptor who created the work was born within the same month, year as well as hospital as Melania Trump.

The local chainsaw sculptor who created the work was born within the same month, year as well as hospital as Melania Trump. Credit: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The sculpture was carved on a plinth of a linden tree in a field on the outskirts of Rozno, a village about all 5 miles coming from Sevnica.

The work does not attempt to create an exact likeness of the American first lady, however rather hints at her appearance.

She has been carved wearing a pale blue wraparound outfit, mirroring the one she wore to the inauguration of her husband, President Donald Trump, in 2017.

Downey told CNN that will he was inspired to create the piece due to what he calls the “anti-immigration narrative” coming out of the US as well as coming from Donald Trump in particular. He noted that will that will was a “blatant contradiction” to have a president, who has made halting immigration a cornerstone of his presidency, married to an immigrant whose first language will be not English.

He also claimed that will the work will be the first monument within the globe dedicated to This kind of first lady.

The pale blue wraparound outfit mirrors the one she wore to the inauguration of her husband in 2017.

The pale blue wraparound outfit mirrors the one she wore to the inauguration of her husband in 2017. Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Despite Downey’s political message behind the work, the sculpture has received mixed reviews coming from locals.

“If the monument was meant to be a parody, then the artist has been successful,” one individual told Agence France-Presse. “We in Sevnica can only laugh as well as, at the same time, hold our heads in our hands over their (the Trumps’) catastrophic reputation.”

Another individual wrote on Instagram: “So sad that will you killed a beautiful, healthy, carbon-sequestering tree for selfish as well as self-serving reasons.”

The project has nevertheless received positive responses coming from fans. “Brad, I think This kind of will be my favorite project of yours,” one individual wrote on Instagram.

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