Melania Trump's wooden statue near in her hometown Sevnica in Slovenia, which was vandalised by arsonists on July 4, the United States Independence Day, has been replaced by a bronze one.
A bronze statue of Melania Trump has been put up on the tree trunk where the wooden stood before it was badly burned over two months ago. Artist Brad Downey unveiled the new statue of the United States first lady on Tuesday.
In a conversation with CNN, Downey said that he had always intended to make a bronze version of the statue to exhibit in an institutional setting, but decided to put it to replace the wooden sculpture which was torched.
"I didn't think it was a good ending for the artwork, I didn't think it was a good ending for the community," he said about the destruction of the statue. Downey also revealed that the local residents had been very supportive of his work so he installed the bronze as a "donation" to them.
Downey said that his recent work is inspired by propaganda monuments, such as those installed by Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin after the 1917 Revolution, adding that the wooden sculpture was "a monument that critiqued monumentalism."
The wooden sculpture that bore only a crude similarity to the FLOTUS was erected in July 2019. It was commissioned by Downey and carved with a chainsaw by local folk artist Ales Zupevc from the trunk of a living linden tree. The artist painted the statue in form of a pale blue wraparound coat resembling the one the first lady wore at the swearing-in of her husband as the president of the United States.
Downey himself had the life-sized sculpture removed on July 5 after the police informed him about it being in a blackened and disfigured state. Local police could not find the people responsible for the vandalism, leading to speculations that Downey himself or his associates were responsible.
About the allegations, Downey told CNN: "I didn't do it. I loved it." He added that he only prevented the circulation of pictures of the burned sculpture as he wanted to prevent the artwork from becoming part of the political discourse around monuments in the US. "If I'd been it I would have let people take photos of it. I removed it quickly so it didn't enter a dark narrative," he clarified.
Meanwhile, the charred statue of Melania was put on display as part of an exhibition in the Slovenian beach resort of Kroper earlier this month. The exhibition titled "F**k Off Illusion" will run until the end of the month.