Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Melania and Donald Trump Find Their Way to Slovenia

Slovenia seems to be embracing Donald Trump and understandably, his wife too.

A tongue-in-cheek statue of Melania was erected in the country. 

The life-size sculpture of Melania, carved out of a tree trunk with a chainsaw stands in Rozno, on the outskirts of her hometown of Sevnica. 

Dressed in a blue coat and raising her left hand in a waving gesture, she emulated a pose she struck at her husband’s 2017 inauguration. 

The brainchild of 39-year-old American conceptual artist Brad Downey, who said it’s the first monument anywhere dedicated to the wife of Donald Trump. BTW, it was unveiled on July 05, 2019. 

“I can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance”, Downey told AFP news agency, but insisted that he found the end result “absolutely beautiful”. 

Of course, he will say that lah!

Downey came up with the statue as part of a project aimed at exploring the first lady’s Slovenian roots and commissioned local artisan Ales Zupevc – also known as Maxi – to actually carve the sculpture. 

Its somewhat naive style had led some critics on social media to brand it a “scarecrow”. 

Some residents had dubbed it "a disgrace", and said it looked more like a Smurfette (right) than the US first lady. 

And there are others who thought it was a good idea. One told AFP: "Melania is a Slovenian hero, she's made it to the top in the US". 

Since Trump took office in 2017, sleepy Sevnica has become a magnet for tourists and journalists searching for insights into the American first lady’s past. 

Entrepreneurial locals saw income potential and they have been cashing in on the influx, offering a bewildering array of Melania Trump-branded food and merchandise (e.g. Melania cake, Melania honey and Melania slippers) as well as a tour of the area, taking in the key sites of her early years. 

That doesn't seem enough.

Now an unflattering wooden statue of the US president has been built in his wife's home country. 

Slovenian creator Tomaz Schlegl told AFP he wanted it to serve as a comment on populist politics. 

The nearly 8m (26ft) tall figure – with a square head and jaw – showed him wearing a blue suit and red tie, and striking a pose reminiscent of New York's Statue of Liberty. 

I read that there is a mechanism inside the wooden structure that allows its facial expression to change from "very friendly during the week to really scary over the weekends", symbolizing the hypocrisy of populist politicians. 

Anyway, it was constructed on private land in the village of Sela pri Kamniku, approximately 30km (20 miles) north-east of the capital Ljubljana. 

And it’s been dividing opinion just as much. Perhaps, more so!

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