A wooden statue of U.S. First Lady Melania Trump has been burnt down in her hometown Sevnica in Slovenia. The incident happened on July 4, as the United States celebrated its Independence Day. The untoward incident has left the statue's sculptor shocked and heartbroken, who took years to carve it from a huge tree.
This isn't the first incident of a statue being burnt in Slovenia in recent times. Earlier this year, a similar wooden statue of President Donald Trump too was burnt down in the country. However, this time the incident comes just weeks after Trump said that the Fed would take a hard line on anyone vandalizing U.S. historical monuments.
Gone Too Soon
Melania Trump's statue, which was carved out last year as a mark of respect by a local artist, was torched in the evening of July 4. However, it is still unknown who the culprits are. The incident was reported the next day following which the police launched an investigation into the matter. Melania Trump's office in Washington has been informed about the incident but is yet to make any official comment.
"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 told Reuters. The incident was first reported by locals to the Krško Firefighting Unit, following which, Brad Downey, a 39-year-old Berlin-based artist, who had commissioned the project, got the disfigured and blackened statue removed.
Downey, who has also filed a police complaint, is making a film on the erection of the statue, which will be showcased at the opening of his exhibition in Slovenia in September. However, the film will now follow a different script following the torching of the statue. Downey has expressed to the police that if the culprits are identified he would like to interview them to know more about the burning of the statue and include it in his film.
Not Really a Statue
The wooden sculpture of Trump in a blue dress was raised on July 5, 2019, exactly a year ago in a settlement called Rožno, not far from her hometown of Sevnica. It was carved with a chainsaw by local sculptor and craftsman Aleš Župevc Maxi from the trunk of a living linden tree.
The sculpture drew attention from both the local and international media and received mixed response. The statue only partially resembled Melania Trump as the face was rough-hewn and unrecognizable prior to the fire. In order to make the statue resemble Melania Trump, Maxi painted the figure with a light blue wraparound coat that the first lady had worn on the swearing in ceremony of her husband.
Although the reason behind torching the statue is yet to be known, a similar wooden statue of Donald Trump carved by a local artist in Moravce in Slovenia was burnt down in January this year. However, this time the incident follows Donald Trump's recent announcement that the government will take a hard line on anyone who disfigures or vandalizes statues of historical importance in the United States.
The President's announcement came after a series of incidents of statues of prominent personalities, who were once slaveholders, were toppled by protesters calling for end to racism against the black.