In early July, in her hometown in Slovenia, a wooden sculpture of First Lady Melania Trump was burned in an arson attack. It has now been replaced, and in bronze. Behold, the big reveal:
There’s a decent chance, dear reader, that you saw this on the internet already over the weekend. If so, go ahead and do yourself a favor and watch that clip again. Somehow, impossibly, it does not get less funny with repeat viewings. We are not alone in this opinion:
The statue, the work of Berlin-based American artist Brad Downey, was created to express his “frustrations with the policies of my birth country,” per The Guardian:
“On the one hand we have people being held in cages on the US border with Mexico, on the other, in what is to me a clear contradiction, we have a first lady who is the first ever for whom English is not her mother tongue, whose US citizenship was fast-tracked on a visa reserved for immigrants with extraordinary ability. At the same time her husband is xenophobic, anti-Islamic.
“I felt I could isolate this contradiction and make a portrait of it.”
Downey, a conceptual artist, commissioned the wooden statue which was this thing’s predecessor from a local artist known as Maxi, who is (again per The Guardian) “a professional pipe layer with no academic art school background, who makes folk art chain saw sculptures in his spare time.” If you’re anything like us, you will see the term “folk art chain saw sculptures” and have the immediate impulse to do some serious googling, but stick with us! There’s more!
Maxi is not responsible for the bronze statue, but it’s not a “monkey Christ” situation—this is a fairly faithful tribute to Maxi’s original creation, give or take some blue paint. Here’s the original, post-fire (but please rest assured that the fire didn’t change it much):
One more time:
It’s tempting to view this as a hell of a read, and while Downey is certainly openly critical of the Trump administration, it’s not so simple. You’re just watching the video again, aren’t you? You’re not even reading this, you’re just enjoying that sweet, sweet reveal. We cannot blame you, but here, here’s The Guardian one more time:
The carving stood in the field more or less unnoticed for a year, until Downey arranged an informal unveiling, after which it was picked up by the world’s media who largely ridiculed it, drawing comparisons with everything from a smurf to a scarecrow.
“I didn’t plan it as a meme,” Downey insists, “though I suppose I was not really surprised that it was so meme-friendly.” The locals with whom he was in contact, were appreciative of the monument. “They came to the unveiling and we ate cake—the local Melanja Tort with cream and nuts, and drank wine. My parents and wife flew over. People said they liked it,” he said.
But he received a flurry of hate mail, “from both the left and the right”, which, along with the media reactions, he said he will integrate into his ongoing “Melania” documentary series.
“On the one hand were people criticising me, asking: ‘why have you monumentalised this woman?’, on the other, were people saying “she’s far better looking than that.”
We should note that as of this writing the arsonists who burned the first iteration of this statue have yet to be identified, but Downey says that some locals “suspect the CIA’s involvement.” And sure, on the surface that sounds absurd, but just look at it. Can you blame them for wondering?
Our favorite response, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes courtesy of Showtime’s Desus & Mero. Mero compares it to something a kid would give their mom on Mother’s Day (“Mommy, I made you out of clay!”) while Desus offers up some pure poetry: “Often when you see something like this, you have to flush twice.”
Oh fine, one more time, for the road:
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