By Marja Novak
ROZNO, Slovenia (Reuters) – A life-size rough wooden sculpture of U.S. first lady Melania Trump was unveiled near her hometown of Sevnica in southeastern Slovenia on Friday.
Commissioned by Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey and carved with a chainsaw by local folk artist Ales Zupevc, the statue serves as a – perhaps wry – accompaniment to Downey’s exhibition in the capital Ljubljana exploring Melania’s roots in the small Alpine country.
The blocky, rustic figure was cut from the trunk of a living linden tree – whose base forms a tall plinth – in a field beside the Sava River in the village of Rozno, eight km (five miles) from Sevnica.
There is no attempt at an accurate likeness, to the point where the gallery in Ljubljana appears uncertain how seriously to take the statue.
“Perhaps we are simply trying vigorously to make sense of things that might only be a slapstick prank,” it says in a leaflet. “Who knows?”
Although the statue’s face is rough-hewn and unrecognisable, the figure is shown clothed in the pale blue wraparound coat that Melania wore at Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president.
Downey said he wanted to “have a dialogue with my country’s political situation” and highlight Melania Trump’s status as an immigrant married to a president sworn to reduce immigration.
The sculptor, known as Maxi, was born in the same hospital as Melania Trump, in the same month, and now mostly works as a pipe-layer.
“Let’s face it,” he says in a short film being shown as part of the exhibition, “she owns half of America while I have nothing.”
(Reporting by Marja Novak and Boris Kavic; Editing by Kevin Liffey)