The first lady has been turned into a work of art in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia.
A monument was erected in commemoration of Melania Trump by conceptual artist Ales “Maxi” Zupevc, according to Time. The monument is a tribute to the first lady on Inauguration Day in 2017, wearing a blue Ralph Lauren dress and waving at the crowd. According to Time, Zupevc made the statue from a tree with a chainsaw.
An artist from Kentucky based in Berlin thought of the idea and commissioned the Sevnica sculptor to proceed. According to Brad Downey’s Instagram, he’s working on a documentary about an exhibition he’s working on. In the Instagram post, Downey says that he and Zupeve have been filming on location at different parts of the town and focuses on Zupeve’s family, environment and class division.
Yahoo News reported that Sevnica has become a magnet for tourists and journalists who want to know more about where the first lady grew up. Locals have been cashing in, according to Yahoo, creating Melania-branded food and merchandise as well as guided tours of the area.
Wine publication Decanter reported that locals are selling salami, chocolate, beauty creams, and a special wine under the first lady’s name.
“We have good wine, we have the best salamis and we have other products that are very good for the area,” Rok Petančič, castle steward, said. “We shouldn’t be afraid or feel ashamed of offering them to a wider audience.”
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currently on view at “Slow Motion Disasters“ my exhibition at Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien ——————————————————————- “Melania” 2019, Sevenica, Slovenia Digital video 12:11 min ___________________________________________________ “Brad Downey’s new ongoing project ”Melania” is a documentary film consisting of several parts about the construction of a monument of Melania Trump, carved into a tree that is still rooted in her hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia. The current First Lady of the USA was born on April 26, 1970 in Novo mesto in the then Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. The sculpture of the president’s wife is made by a local pipe layer and amateur chainsaw sculptor named Maxi. Both Maxi and Melania were born on the same year in the same hospital, but their lives have taken drastically different directions. For the film, Downey and his team spent several months filming interviews with Maxi along with locations around the town. The result is a personal portrait of Maxi and his thoughts about Slovenia, the USA, Europe, immigration and 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 and his feelings about art, God, love, and country. By focusing on one working class man’s portrayal of a public and internationally known personality, the film offers insights on local and global problems and policies illuminated by the USA and Europe and beyond.” Text: @dna_ia @kunstraumkreuzberg curated by Stéphane Bauer, Nadia Pilchowski and Sylvia Sadzinski thanks: Aljaž Celarc , Miha and Jaka Erjavec @dna_ia @sylv_inski @stephanebauerb Photo: Eric Tschernow #firstlady #slovenia #sevnica #AljažCelarc #immigration #refugees
Other items with her name include honey jars with her face, cakes decorated with golden dust, an underwear line and a Christmas tree, according to Herald Tribune.
Trump has taken legal measures, though, to make sure her name isn’t used to make money without her approval. In 2016, Herald Tribune reported that the first lady hired a law firm in her native country to make sure that products didn’t have the Melania name.
People gathered around the artist on Friday in the fields near Sevnica in a small celebration, according to Time. Locals speaking with British TV network ITV described the statue as a “disgrace.”
Critics of the controversial first lady compared the statue to a scarecrow, but Downey said that he “can understand why people might think that this falls short as a description of her physical appearance.”
Trump was born on April 26, 1970, in Novo Mesto in the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia as Melanija Knavs, according to Herald Tribune. She left the area in her 20s to pursue an international modeling career.