Statue of US first lady Melania Trump ‘torched’ in Slovenia

American artist commissioned piece to foster a dialogue about political situation in his country

(Left) A file photo taken on July 5, 2019 of what conceptual artist Ales  Zupevc claims is the first ever monument of Melania Trump, set in the fields near the US first lady’s hometown of  Sevnica, Slovenia and  (right) a photo taken on July 7th,  showing the charred remains of a tree trunk that once acted as a plinth for the wooden statue. Photos by Jure Makovec/AFP via Getty Images.

(Left) A file photo taken on July 5, 2019 of what conceptual artist Ales Zupevc claims is the first ever monument of Melania Trump, set in the fields near the US first lady’s hometown of Sevnica, Slovenia and (right) a photo taken on July 7th, showing the charred remains of a tree trunk that once acted as a plinth for the wooden statue. Photos by Jure Makovec/AFP via Getty Images.

 

A wooden sculpture of US first lady Melania Trump was torched near her hometown of Sevnica in Slovenia, the artist who commissioned the piece has said.

Brad Downey, a Berlin-based American artist, said he had the blackened and disfigured life-sized sculpture removed as soon as police informed him of the incident, which happened on the night of July 4th, as the US celebrated Independence Day.

“I want to know why they did it,” said Downey, who had hoped the statue would foster a dialogue about the political situation in the United States, highlighting Ms Trump’s status as an immigrant married to a president sworn to reduce immigration.

In Washington, Ms Trump’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In recent weeks, president Donald Trump has pledged to take a hard line on anyone destroying or vandalising US historical monuments, as political activism against racial injustice has swept across the country.

Culprits

Downey (39) said he had filed a police report and would like to interview the culprits, if found, for a film he is preparing ahead of his exhibition due to open in Slovenia in September.

“The investigation in this case has not been completed yet so we cannot reveal details due to the interest of further procedures,” police spokeswoman Alenka Drenik said.

Although the statue’s face was rough-hewn and unrecognizable prior to the fire, the figure was painted with a pale blue wraparound coat resembling the one Ms Trump wore at the swearing in of her husband.

The figure was carved with a chainsaw by local folk artist Ales Zupevc from the trunk of a living linden tree.

In January, a large wooden statue resembling Mr Trump, designed by a local artist last year, was burnt in Slovenia’s city of Moravce, east of the capital Ljubljana. - Reuters