Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
A Paris suburb is planning to use Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's face in a statue honoring female immigrant workers.
To celebrate his city’s history of working class immigrants, Mayor Jacques Martin of the Paris suburb Nogent-sur-Marne will build a statue of immigrant factory employees. The model for said symbol of the working class? Multi-millionaire pop star, former supermodel and French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Martin has commissioned the statue to be built in a town square by springtime. It will depict Bruni-Sarkozy in working clothes as a tribute to the female Italian migrants who made clothes and decorative objects from feathers in a factory downtown. The statue is expected to cost more than 80,000 euros.
Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy began dating French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, and the two subsequently wed. As First Lady, Bruni-Sarkozy has developed a reputation as a high-spending debutant. Critics have been known to refer to her as "Marie Antoinette."
Project opponents say the choice of Bruni-Sarkozy trivializes the history of working women. "It’s an insult to the Italian feather-workers, to give them the face of a super-rich person," Socialist councillor William Geib told RFI. "I’ve nothing against Carla Bruni-Sarkozy but she does not represent the world of work."
Some locals agree, and ague that Martin may be trying to impress President Sarkozy, according to this article from the Daily Mail.
Mr Martin, who belongs to Mr Sarkozy’s ruling UMP coalition, believes that an image of the Turin-born heiress will bring a ‘little piece of Italy’ to Nogent.
The commuter town has a large Italian community among its 30,000 residents, and Mr Martin believes that many will be impressed by the six feet plus statue.
But winning Sarkozy's affection may not mean a whole lot. Sarkozy is up for reelection this spring, and he is expected to lose. If this happens, Bruni-Sarkozy may drop a few rungs of status. But whatever slightly less high-profile lifestyle emerges, it will still be worlds away from the working class women her likeness is being used to honor.
Photo credit: Reuters