Amid a recent drive accompanying Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests to remove sculptures of historically significant American figures professed to be linked to either slavery or racial issues in the US, a rather idiosyncratic wooden statue of US First Lady Melania Trump was reportedly set on fire near her hometown in Slovenia, reports Reuters.
The charred remains of the effigy, reportedly bearing but a crude likeness to the First Lady, were beyond saving and promptly removed.
The figure, carved out of a linden tree trunk using a chainsaw on the outskirts of Sevnica and unveiled in her hometown of Sevnica last June, had drawn mixed reactions from local residents.
If you’ve not seen it, it’s very lifelike. pic.twitter.com/BGlvIy4nlP— Alistair Coleman (@alistaircoleman) July 8, 2020
Some locals had complained that the statue, depicting FLOTUS wearing a blue coat similar to one she wore to her husband's inauguration, looked more like the Smurfs character Smurfette, with others branding it a "disgrace", and a “scarecrow”.
Berlin-based 39-year-old American conceptual artist Brad Downey, who commissioned local artisan Ales Zupevc to carve the statue, was cited by Reuters as saying it was targeted on 4 July, US Independence Day.
An investigation has been launched into the incident, says Reuters citing local police, with Downey cited as wanting to know who was behind the incident targeting his brainchild and what were their motives.
According to him, he had hoped the statue to the First Lady might inspire dialogue about the US political situation and feed into the debate on immigration.
There has been no official comment from the White House regarding the incident.
Netizens swooped in on the news, with many commenting on how "life-like" they thought the sculpture had looked.
Is it confirmed to be the wooden statue and not the actual FLOTUS? Could be easily confused.— Marine Mom (@CLRo777) July 9, 2020
I hope it was just a wooden statue. Those things are hard to distinguish from the real thing— surecantpickem (@surecantpickem) July 8, 2020
Wooden Statue Of Wooden Statue Burned, Sad!— Jacques Mahoffer⚜️ (@JMahoffer) July 8, 2020
Some people say she’s hot. Now she’s hotter. 😂— Joseph Kay (@LeverageHelps) July 8, 2020
Pity. It was far more emotive than the original.— Sherman (Wash Your Hands) (@Anonymaustrap) July 8, 2020
Oh my...you mean this ugly one? 👇👇👇 ...🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/RKVVjAb8JJ— Sylvia N. (@sylviaakabibi) July 8, 2020
Some weighed in on the possible motives behind the torching of the statue.
I know a bit about Slavic folklore and isn't that the way they cast out demons?— njevancik (@nevancik1) July 9, 2020
Too bad they don't believe in voodoo. Perfect opportunity that was.— Milenaac (@milenaac) July 8, 2020
Did it come to life, cackle and fly off on a broom?— Blue Wizard (@BlueWizardCons1) July 8, 2020
Some wondered if perhaps the First Lady herself might have had a hand in destroying the effigy.
I wouldn't be surprised if Melania had someone burn it. If someone made a sculpture of me like that, I would want to burn it down.— Eric B. (@EricB01313166) July 8, 2020
Melania put a contract out on this statue. https://t.co/ihOHJ9hdi4— lindan johnson (@lindanjohnson1) July 8, 2020
I know they say all art is subjective but...... yikes!!!!!— Joanne Liddle (@safcfootienutJo) July 8, 2020
Since Donald Trump took office in 2017, Sevnica had become a magnet for tourists and journalists on a quest to dig up insights into the US First Lady’s past.
Cashing in on the new attraction, locals had been producing an array of Melania Trump-branded merchandise, including slippers, cakes, and Trump-like burgers.
In January this year, a wooden statue mocking President Donald Trump, also constructed in Slovenia, east of the capital Ljubljana, the birthplace of his wife, Melania Trump, was burned to the ground by arsonists.
🔶— Church Lady (@SoulWomen) July 9, 2020
A photo of a wooden sculpture resembling Trump on fire, in Moravce, Slovenia, Jan. 9, 2020. The wooden nearly 26 feet statue mocking US President Donald Trump was constructed last year, has been destroyed by fire in the homeland of his wife Melania Trump.
Nearly 8 metres (26 ft.) tall, the figure had portrayed Trump complete with trademark hair, blue suit, white shirt and long red tie, and his right arm raised high in a seeming resemblance to that of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
A mechanism inside the statue, when triggered, had opened a mouth displaying shark-like teeth.