Remember the wooden statue of Melania Trump that was commissioned by the American artist Brad Downey and handcrafted by Aleš Župevc, the one got burned down, just like the one of her husband?
Now vandals will have to rely on dynamite or a tow truck to remove the intriguing figure, which has been returned to its pedestal in Rožno, a hamlet about 8 km outside Melania’s hometown of Sevnica, in a new, more resilient bronze form, along with a plaque that reads “dedicated to the eternal memory of a monument to Melania which stood at this location”.
The bronze reproduction of the original is said to have cost Brad Downey around 10,000 euros, and - like the wooden version - has not been met with universal acclaim. A spokesperson for the Municipality of Sevnica, while expressing thanks for the publicity Melania Trump has generated for area, added that although artistic expression is "the free will of each individual, as long as it does not interfere with the dignity of another individual, but...the sculpture that has been erected, removed and now re-erected does not reflect these values. Even worse, it is completely inappropriate, and we believe that opinion is shared by the majority of the residents of Sevnica. In addition, the Municipality of Sevnica is associated with this project completely involuntarily, as the installation area actually lies outside its borders."
If you’d like to see more of Downey’s work then you’re in luck, as until 30 September 2020 you can visit a retrospective of his work in Koper with the title “Fuck off Illusion”. It can be found in Libertas, the former salt warehouse in Koper, with more details here.
This Sunday locals informed the Krško Firefighting Unit that the wooden statue of America’s First Lady Melania Trump, which had been erected in in Rožno, was on fire.
The wooden sculpture of Trump in a blue dress was raised on July 5th 2019 in a settlement not far from her hometown of Sevnica.
The sculpture was a work of local sculptor and craftsman Aleš Župevc Maxi and commissioned by American artist Brad Downey, who also filmed a documentary about the making of the statue.
The sculpture was met with mixed responses from the public and received a great amount of attention from local and international press.
The Novo Mesto Police have been informed about the incident, and are currently investigating the circumstances of the event.
Earlier this year, a wooden statue of President Donald Trump was also burned, this time entirely, in Moravče, some 30 kilometres east of Ljubljana.
All our stories on Melania Trump and Slovenia can be found here
STA, 3 March 2020 - Bojan Požar, the editor of news portal Požareport has received a judicial admonition for writing in 2016 that Viktor Knavs, the father of US First Lady Melania Trump, had been in prison for tax evasion. This comes after Požar was ordered to pay damages to Knavs in a related defamation lawsuit last year. Požar intends to challenge the decision.
Požar tweeted on Tuesday that he had received a judicial admonition from the first instance court, announcing an appeal. He pleaded not guilty in the first hearing in 2017.
Požar said in an article, published in 2016, that Knavs had been in prison for tax evasion and illicit trade, citing documents known to the broader public as UDBA.net, a list of people who worked for the former Yugoslav secret police, acted as informants or were spied upon by the secret police.
Meanwhile, a damages lawsuit brought against Požar by Knavs has already reached the Higher Court, which decided last year that Požar had to pay EUR 5,000 in damages and apologise to Knavs, said a press release in December from Knavs's lawyers Pirc Musar&Lemut Strle.
Knavs's law firm also said in December that Požar was ordered to post on the news portal the introduction part of the ruling and an apology for claiming Knavs had been in jail.
All our (very careful) stories about Melania Trump are here
Klemen Slakonja, the most successful Slovenian YouTuber, just came out with another potential hit. After a collection of music videos in which he impersonates famous people singing, his latest gem comes in a form of a tourist ad for Slovenia, presented by the American First Lady, Melania Trump.
Slakonja, who is an actor by profession, looks stunning while introducing Slovenia’s main tourist attractions, Melania’s home town of Sevnica included.
Last month Klemen Slakonja posted his new music video featuring Luka Dončić and Drake, which has since gathered close to a million views. His most popular YouTube video so far, with 28 million views, remains Putin Putout, posted in February 2016.
STA, 6 January 2020 - US First Lady Melania Trump remains the most influential Slovenian, according to a list compiled by the right-leaning magazine Reporter, ahead of PM Marjan Šarec and UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin.
The Reporter Top 100 list takes into account formal influence associated with the person's post or job, as well as their informal influence.
Reporter says that there is no doubt about Melania Trump being by far the most influential Slovenia, and that she will stay so as long as she remains in the White House.
All our stories on Melania Trump are here
PM Marjan Šarec this year replaced Aleksander Čeferin in second spot, with Reporter commenting that along with the powers associated with the executive post, Šarec has also gained informal influence.
Čeferin, who the magazine says as EUFA boss has access to both the Pope and Russian President Vladimir Putin, is followed by Slovenian President Borut Pahor and parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan.
The most influential aides of Šarec, according to the magazine, are Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj in 6th spot, and Šarec's national security adviser Damir Črnčec in 8th place.
Janez Lenarčič, the European crisis management commissioner, ranks 7th.
Rounding off the top ten are Janez Janša, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party (SDS), and the man widely perceived as his nemesis, Milan Kučan, Slovenia's first president.
Silvester Šurla, the Reporter editor-in-chief, writes that Kučan, who slipped from 6th place a year ago, wields the biggest informal power of all people on the list, along with Gregor Golobič, the former long serving secretary general of Liberal Democracy (LDS), the party that ruled Slovenia for more than a decade until 2004. Golobič ranks 11th on the list.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, "the main uncle working in the open and behind the scenes", as Šurla writes, is Janez Janša, his formal and informal power being greater than Kučan's.
"Janša has managed to politically subjugate virtually all of the right bloc, from [Marjan] Podobnik's SLS [People's Party] and [Matej] Tonin's NSi [New Slovenia] to a number of civil society organisations in the right ideological pole.
"As a former prime minister he still has a network of loyal people at state institutions and enterprises with millions of euro flowing in regularly from Orban's Hungary allowing him to manage his propaganda machinery, packed into (party) media," writes Šurla about Janša.
All our stories on Janez Janša are here
After Melania, the second highest ranked woman on the list is former PM Alenka Bratušek in 12th spot.
She is followed in 13th by Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the National Party (SNS), whose influence increased now that his party secures majority to the Šarec minority government.
The politician whose influence declined the most is Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, while the NBA superstar Luka Dončić climbed 50 spots to rank 50th in the biggest leap on the list since last year.
The list includes 22 new names, including Andrej Šiško, the leader of the paramilitary Štajeska guard, in 100th spot.
A new book was published on Melania Trump yesterday, 3 December, and so we raced to the index and found all the references to Slovenia, curious to see how the country would be reflected in Free, Melania: The unauthorized biography, written by Kate Bennett, a reporter who covers the First Lady for CNN.
So far we’ve only read “the Slovenian parts” in detail, and with our Total Slovenia hat on it must be said that the book falls short when it comes to introducing aspects of the country that relate to Melania, from the 1970s on, to the wider world. A much better work in that regard being Sandi Gorišek’s Melania Trump: The Slovenian Side of the Story (which can be found on Amazon here, with the Kindle version being free. Our interview with the author is here.)
But what did I learn about Slovenia from the book, chapter 4 of which it titled “The Girl from Slovenia”? Mostly that Slovenians don’t smile, and that they are stoic and suffer in silence, as seen in the following excerpts:
What most people don’t understand is Melania’s heritage and the country in which she was born. In Slovenia, smiling a nongenuine smile isn’t really a thing. Admittedly, it’s a tad disconcerting when shopping in an outdoor market, making eye contact with a vendor, asking a hotel bellhop if they mind carrying a heavy bag, or soliciting a waiter about what he suggests from the menu. “We just don’t always feel like we have to pretend to be when we aren’t,” one of Melania’s old high school classmates from Slovenia told me.
One aspect of Melania Trump that people find most troubling is that she doesn’t smile. But if you understand Slovenians, you know they are not a grinning country.
…as one of Melania’s former Slovenian high school classmates told me, revealing emotional hardship or being dramatic simply isn’t something Slovenes do. The joy of being Slovenian is hiding your feelings.
She didn’t want anyone to know she was sick [in April 2018, when she was hospitalized for a kidney complaint], her Slovenian upbringing compelling her to accept the bad news without showing it on her face, rejecting any impulse to slow down or ask for help or show the slightest hint of weakness.
There are also some references to Slovenia in terms of Melania’s family and home life, although Bennett makes a point to keep details of Barron Trump to a minimum:
Slovenian mothers are notorious for not being able to let go of their children; Melania is no exception.
Ultimately, Viktor and Amalija [Melania’s parents] have spent so much time with Barron, watching him, looking after him, staying with him when his parents travel, that he is fluent in Slovenian. Those who have spent time with him say that he has a slight Slovenian accent.
She is a product of where she came from, and that she typifies an old Slovenian proverb: the woman of the house controls three of its corners; the man, just one. Melania is definitely a woman very much in control of her three corners.
And with regard to Slovenia when it was still part of Yugoslavia, and how it shaped the character of the people:
Communism in Slovenia shaped a generation who was willing to settle for, who even expected and was grateful for, the bare minimum. President Josip Broz Tito, the communist leader of Yugoslavia, ingrained in his people that being humble was noble and that standing out was bad. The general thought about Yugoslavia at the time was that if communism was going to be the rule, they had it better than most other communist countries. Tito taught his people to keep their heads down and not lust for anything special. It was a lifestyle that created an intensely private population of mind-your-own-business types.
All in all, while the book has plenty of salacious details on the life of the First Lady - as seen in all the other reviews - it’s rather slim pickings for anyone seeking to learn more about the country of her birth, but perhaps the blame – or credit – for this should go to Nataša Pirc Musar, rather than the author. Pirc Musar is the formidable lawyer who keeps a close eye on Melania Trump’s interests in Slovenia, and does her job very well.
All our stories on Melania Trump can be found here
STA, 20 November 2019 - Previously unknown photos of Melania Trump have been published in a book in Slovenia that sheds light on the US first lady's early modelling career.
First Lady Melania Trump - As She Once Was, brings a series of photos taken in 1991 and 1992, when she was 21 and 22 years of age and already a budding fashion model.
The 13 photos released for the first time are by fashion scout Nino Mihalek, who ran into Melania in the centre of Ljubljana in 1991 and then spent several hours photographing her, according to the book's author Igor Omerza.
A second photo series in the book are screenshots from a one-minute video taken in 1992 at a beauty pageant in the coastal city of Portorož.
The 80-page paperback, which features Melania's photos interspersed with biographical notes and more or less random photographs of places of interest in Slovenia, is now on sale in Slovenia.
An abbreviated version has been translated into English, but Omerza said he is yet to find a publisher.
Melania Trump, born Melanija Knavs in Novo Mesto in 1970, grew up in Sevnica, completed high school in Ljubljana, enrolled to the University in Ljubljana and then abandoned her studies for a modelling career. In 1996 she moved to Manhattan, where she eventually met her future husband, Donald Trump. In 2006 she received American citizenship. In 2016, due to her husband’s successful bid for the Presidency, she became the First Lady of the United States of America. In 2018 she also became a daughter of American parents, since the authorities granted her mom and dad, Amalia and Victor Knavs, American citizenship too.
Luka Dončič was born in Ljubljana in 1999, started playing basketball as a child for Union Olimpija, then joined the youth academy of Real Madrid, Spain at the age of 13. He debuted in the senior team at the age of 16, the youngest player in club history. A year later he made a senior debut for the Slovenian national team, helping it to win its first EuroBasket title in 2017. In 2018 he won the 2018 EuroLeague title with Real Madrid, along the EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards. In 2018 he joined the Dallas Mavericks in America and won the Rookie of the Year Award for the 2018-19 season.
Luka Lan Gabriel is a young programmer from Maribor, who gained prominence by developing Snapchat filters and Instagram lenses. Visit his website and learn more about what he does and how that got him such an admirable following on his social media platforms.
Jan Oblak is a professional goalkeeper who plays for Atletico Madrid. Jan begun his football career in his hometown of Škofja Loka, then transferred to Olimpija Ljubljana at the age of 10. In 2010 he signed a contract with FC Benfico, Portugal and helped them to become national champions in 2014. After this successful season with Benfico, Jan Oblak signed a six year contract with Atletico Madrid, Spain. For the 2015-16 season he won a Ricardo Zamora Trophy for best goalkeeper in the Spanish league, which he won again in the following three seasons. Unsurprisingly, he is considered a one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
What we know about Maja Malnar mostly comes from her blog. She began her career as a small time local entertainer. She then got herself into some trouble with an eating disorder, a challenge she eventually overcome. However, “Now I am grateful that it happened as it changed me completely,” we read on her website. “I became extremely healthy and conscious about nature. Read a lot of books and grew on a spiritual level.” Apparently, Maja Malnar also succeeded in becoming ONE OF Slovenia’s most successful influencerS, whatever work this might actually entail.
Brad Downey is the name associated with the wooden sculpture of Melanie Trump that appeared in Sevnica earlier this year, to much interest and amusement from around the world, with the US-born Berlin-based artist going for a naïve, primitive approach in his portrayal of the town’s most famous daughter. But Mr Downey did not create the work himself, with his own hands, and instead commissioned it from a local carpenter and artist, the self-taught and extremely hard-working Aleš “Maxi” Župevc. The following video, which seems to have been published by Downey, takes a look at the life of the man behind the story, and life in rural Slovenia.
Perhaps to accompany the wooden statue of Melania that was recently unveiled in the First Lady’s hometown of Sevnica, a similar likeness of her husband, President Trump, has appeared in Sela pri Kamniku, about 30 km north east of Ljubljana,
As the Washington Post reports:
The man who designed it, who was interviewed on local television station Kanal A but not identified by name, said it was meant to show Trump in the style of Superman, or the Statue of Liberty.
The image may not be entirely flattering. The artist, who was helped in the construction by a group of local young people, said in the TV interview that the statue was “a provocation, because the world is full of populism.”