Rising out of the banks of the Sava River like a tribute to a forgotten god, a crude wooden effigy carved vaguely like a woman holding up a clenched, clubbed hand sits just outside the city of Sevnica, Slovenia.

Who is this mysterious figure – a goddess of fertility? Is it a tribute to a fallen soldier or perhaps a civil rights movement forerunner?

Actually, it’s none of those – it’s Melania Trump.

The humanoid, haunting figure was carved from a tree stump using a chainsaw and painted to emulate the blue dress Melania wore to the 2017 U.S. presidential inauguration ceremony.

The statue is the contrivance of American conceptual artist Brad Downey, known for other polarizing works such as ‘Wisdom Testicles,’ and was carved by Slovenian local artist Ales Zupevc – known as Maxi – who was born in the same year and in the same hospital in Sevnica as Melania herself.

Maxi is featured in a documentary explaining his artistic process and his thoughts on everything from the U.S., class division, and immigration – while carving, buffing and painting the statue.

On Downey’s Instagram account, a photo showing the back of the statue – named “This Echo” – on a gallery pamphlet, is captioned with an explanation that the piece explores “the motive of the tragic mythological figure Echo, who was punished for concealing the god Zeus's infidelity and could only repeat sounds that reached her, and her love for the self-absorbed Narcissus.”

Reaction to the work has been mixed, to say the least.

A local architecture student, 24-year-old Nika, told AFP that if the work was meant to be “a parody” then it hit the mark.

"We in Sevnica can only laugh and, at the same time, hold our heads in our hands over their (the Trumps') catastrophic reputation," she said.

Another resident from nearby town Rozno ,66-year-old Katarina, is in favour of the piece, telling AFP; “Melania is a Slovenian hero, she made it to the top in the U.S.”

Downey’s Instagram account is full of praise for the work, with many commenters promising a pilgrimage to the site to view the work “in all its glory.”

There has been no reaction from Melania or Donald Trump yet.


with files from AFP