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Tribute or prank? Sculpture of Melania Trump unveiled near Slovenian hometown

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A sculpture of US first lady Melania Trump is officially unveiled in Rozno, near her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia, July 5, 2019.
A sculpture of US first lady Melania Trump is officially unveiled in Rozno, near her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia, July 5, 2019. -
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REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic
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A life-size sculpture of US first lady Melania Trump was unveiled near her hometown of Sevnica in Slovenia on Friday, drawing mixed reactions.

Commissioned by Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey and carved by local folk artist Ales Zupevc, the wooden statue accompanies an exhibition in the capital Ljubljana exploring Melania's roots in the eastern European country.

The rustic figure was cut from the trunk of a living linden tree and looks reminiscent of naive art typical for the region.

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 coat that Melania wore at Donald Trump's inauguration.

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.

While some say the wooden artwork looks nothing like the real Melania Trump - a former fashion model - some disagree, finding symbolism in the work's representation of the First Lady.

"She does not look as beautiful as she normally is," said local resident Franc Stopar.

"You know what makes her resemble Melania? Look at how high she climbed to the top, just like real Melania, who rose to the top of America. A little girl from Sevnica. Hats off to her," said Katarina Klenovsek, another Svenica resident.