By: Tanja Brkić / Nova24tv
In recent days, the art scene has been shaken by the testimonies of victims of alleged sexual abuse and financial manipulations by a prominent representative of the art scene of the younger generation, Dušan Josip Smodej, a friend of those who so fervently defend moral values, human rights, and equality. We are, of course, talking about the social elite and its members, such as Nika Kovač, Jaša Jenull… It seems that all the paths of the worst depravity lead to the cultural and civil society community, which is united in the radical Left party (Levica).
The affair of Dušan Josip Smodej, a prominent representative of the art scene in Slovenia, surprised and shocked many, but at the same time, the testimonies about his sexual perversion are not all that surprising if we know the background of his social interactions, his circle of friends, and, ultimately, his so-called “artistic ventures” from the past, which are anything but tasteful and aesthetic. To begin with, we can mention the recent death by suicide of Smodej’s friend, who is also a cultural worker, Roman Uranjek, who, according to some sources, was under so much pressure in recent weeks, particularly because of Smodej’s affair, that it was easier for him to commit suicide than to face the consequences. The alleged sexual violence will not surprise anyone when we learn who was actually part of Smodej’s circles.
Smodej is behind the art of “chewing a live bat” in front of the National Assembly
If you have not heard of Dušan Josip Smodej before now, the following lines will jog your memory. Smodej is the director of Fotopub, the association that promotes controversial art and which, in 2020, brought another “artist” from Russia to Slovenia – Petr Davydtchenko, who staged a performance in front of the National Assembly in Ljubljana, in which he ate a live bat. Given the fact that bats are protected in our country and that eating a still living animal is clearly torture, both Davičenko and Smodej fell under scrutiny for torturing animals, but strangely enough, the non-governmental organisation the Institute of the 8th of March (Inštitut 8. marec) did not react to this at the time, as they clearly had no interest in protecting bats, even though they were very eager to protect the beavers and fight against the cutting off the funding of the Lutra Institute, which gave them one more reason to slander the former Minister of the Environment, Andrej Vizjak. At the time, they wrote the following on their Facebook page: “Vizjak is doing this out of revenge against all those who stood up for nature…” Interesting that they did not stand up for animal rights when a man ate a live bat.
Back then, Smodej said in one of his statements that “obviously, the idea of his performance has been overlooked,” and that we should consider the fact that in some cases, “the end justifies the means.” Does it really? Will he perhaps defend himself in the same way after today’s accusations? Or did his confidence in doing so come from the fact that he also had legal backing?
He was also protected by the Legal Network
Last April, under Smodej’s direction, artists stood naked with bags on their heads in the shop window of the Fotopub gallery. Their nudity disturbed the passers-by, who informed the police about it, which then issued the artists with fines for indecent behaviour. Anuška Podvršič, on behalf of the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy (“Pravna mreža za varstvo demokracije”), defended the performers, saying that the purpose of the performance was not to disturb, but rather about the basic human right to exist.
It is not known what she has to say about the young girls’ right to say “no,” who were subjected to sexual violence by Smodej, but we do know that Podvršič is one of the people who criticised the police when they were in charge of keeping the peace at last year’s violent protests, saying that police repression increased during the epidemic. Waving around warrants and defending extremists and the sexually derailed is clearly a way of helping the left do whatever it is that they do from the background.
Nika Kovač also worked with Smodej
The inhumane treatment of girls, sexual perversion and misunderstanding of the word “no” are the characteristics that today remind us of Smodej, the man who also worked with the Institute of the 8th of March and its representative, Nika Kovač, a campaigned for women’s right, and defender of victims of sexual violence, who took 11 days to respond to the creation of the Instagram profile which is literally overflowing with very serious accusations against Smodej. On Sunday, after 11 days, she herself tried to explain or justify the reason why it took her so long to respond in a live video on Instagram. She said that she wanted to talk to the creators of the profile first and that “no one is really guilty until they are proven to be guilty.” Nika Kovač is only a small part of the exact elite of which Smodej was also a part of, and it is hard not to wonder how it is possible that no one has heard anything about this before. She herself said that some time ago, a person from her team was involved in one of the projects with Smodej, so she probably also attended the events they organised.
Judging by their Twitter posts, the person in question is probably Maiken Kores, former programme coordinator at the Institute of the 8th of March, who, according to her LinkedIn profile, worked as a freelance translator for the Fotopub Association from 2018 to 2020. What is particularly interesting is that Dušan Smodej was a prominent figure among cultural activists, but suddenly everyone is denying that they were friends with him or even saying that they did not know him. MP Miha Kordiš and Minister of Labour Luka Mesec from the Left party, who recently broke their silence, also both denied knowing Smodej.
“Recruiting” young girls at cultural events
And it was at such cultural events that Smodej and his friendship circle allegedly “recruited” young girls. According to our sources, art exhibition openings and cultural events were ideal opportunities for recruiting young girls, especially after alcohol and various other illegal substances were introduced into the mix. Smodej is said to have had quite a lot of those at his disposal. The events were thus supposed to be followed by an “afterparty,” which usually took place in Smodej’s rented apartment on the ground floor at Tivolska Street 36, or in the basement of the Fotopub at Tivolska Street 44. We are talking about events that were tailor-made for the “special few” and were not open to everyone – and here is the translation of an invite to one such event, which can serve as an example: “A completely unique exhibition is taking place in Ljubljana: its location is hidden, as it is happening in a private apartment, and entry is only possible with an invite. At the exhibition, you can see the works of eighteen renowned Slovenian artists, who, in various ways, moved their creative practice into the field of pornography. At the exhibition, you can also see the works of artist and photographer Tadej Vaukman from Dravograd, who lives and works in Ljubljana. The exhibition, which was created under the curatorship of Duša Jesih, Roman Uranjek and Dušan Josip Smodej, the works of the following eighteen renowned Slovenian artists will be displayed: Nataša Berk, Viktor Bernik, Goran Bertok, Ištvan Išt Huzjan, Dupa Jesih, Žiga Kariž, Tina Konec, David Nez, Neža Knez, Iza Pavlina, Mark Požlep, Franc Purg, Dušan Josiš Smodej, Roman Uranjek, Tadej Vaukman, Aleksandra Vajd, jra VOgrič, Nana Wolke.” The promotional material included a photo of a half-unwrapped chocolate penis with a halo, in a St. Nicholas wrapper.
Will the police act in time?
According to our sources, the late Roman Uranjek was also an active participant in these parties. One of Uranjek’s colleagues posted a photo of him on Twitter, in which Smodej can also be seen, after learning about his death, and wrote that he was “saddened to learn of the sudden death of Roman Ruanjek, a founding member of the art group ‘IRWIN’ in Ljubljana in 1983 and of the Neue Slowenische Kunst. Roman was a friend. The photo was taken in Silba, Croatia, when we were on holiday together last summer.”
Smodej was reportedly spotted in Ljubljana on Sunday, more precisely at the Kavarna Sem coffee shop, at Metelkova Street 2, where the so-called “cultural elite” gather. Apparently, Smodej is wandering around Ljubljana freely while the police are “intensely verifying information about suspected criminal offences.” Given that, in this case, the alleged perpetrator is being prosecuted ex officio, we wanted to know how intense the process of verification really is. We addressed these questions directly to the police, asking them about the progress of the investigation, whether they also intend to carry out any house searches, and whether there is any possibility that the alleged perpetrator might conceal/delete evidence in the meantime. The Police Public Relations Officer for Criminal Matters, Drago Menegalija, responded to the question by writing: “We cannot give answers to questions relating to specific individuals due to data protection,” adding that the police urge all victims to come forward.
And the following information is key to understanding the question: who is Smodej?
In the company of known sexual predators
According to our sources, Roman Uranjek, a friend of Smodej’s, is said to have been a friend of Igor Pribac and Matjaž Tribušon. It is not known whether they were also present at the parties in question, but they are both well-known “cultural workers,” who are no strangers to sexual harassment. Igor Pribac, a former professor at the Faculty of Arts, who shares the fervent defence of the protests with the other members of the aforementioned elite, also shares the “love for young girls” with some of them. In fact, during his time as a professor at the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty received numerous allegations of physical and verbal sexual harassment against him. “The two students who gave anonymised statements describe that the professor asked them about their sex life during oral exams, and did not stop doing so, despite the clearly expressed discomfort on their part,” the negative evaluation of Pribac at the Faculty of Arts read, and he was, naturally, stripped of his title of associate professor afterwards.
But Pribac is not the only sexual predator who moved in Smodej’s circles; there is also the actor and former professor at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, Matjaž Tribušon, who was criminally charged with sexual violence and harassment last year, and a complaint with the district public prosecutor’s office has also been filed against him. Namely, last year, the 26-year-old actress Mia Skribanc first spoke out about sexual violence against her during her years of studying at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television on the show “Tednik.” She said that between the years 2014 and 2016, she was sexually harassed by one of her professors, and in February, she filed an official sexual harassment complaint against Tribušon.
The affair goes to the heart of the “civil society”
Despite the fact that Smodej’s acquaintances and friends in the privileged elite and the Left party are staying silent on the matter and are trying to divert public attention elsewhere, there is only one truth here, and the facts do not lie. There is panic among the Friday cyclists and the “civil society” activists as the affair reaches to their very core. Denials are piling up, and suddenly, nobody knows anybody anymore. One of the organisers of the protests, Jaša Jenull, even tried to divert attention to journalists Bojan Požar and Luka Perš, who were among the first to bring attention to Smodej’s sexual harassment, saying that they are lying and trying to exploit the situation for political purposes. Here is what Jenull wrote in a recent post on Facebook: “How do you know that the ‘journalists’ Bojan Požar and Luka Perš are lying? Their lips are moving. I do not know Dušan Smodej, I never worked with him, was never his friend, never hung out with him, or visited any parties where he was present. The accusations of sexual harassment should urgently be investigated by the police and then processed by the courts! But meanwhile, two gross, unscrupulous and lying toads are trying to use the situation, which potentially affected a large number of young girls (and perhaps even ended in the loss of life for some), to lie, slander their political opponents, and trying to get more people to read their vile, lying articles, at the expense of other people’s lives.”
Jenull denied being friends with Smodej, but that is extremely hard to believe, given that the two have participated in protests together and that almost everyone in Slovenia knows everyone, especially when it comes to people of the “privileged elite and cultural workers” groups.
Ana Jud got Uranjek’s obscene invitation
After all the statements about Smodej’s vile actions, new ones keep coming out, not only about Smodej’s actions but also about Uranjek’s actions. Given the recent claims of journalist Ana Jud, all of the claims about what they were doing are very plausible. This is how she described her experience: “All of it is true. You cannot claim that the entire Left party was involved in it because, as my friend said, not all of the priests in the Roman-Catholic Church are paedophiles either, but I believe all of these girls who have testified so far. I also know why Roman adored Smodej – they were both obsessed with violent sex, and none of them was immune to alcohol or other substances. I want to call him up and say, ‘you disgusting pig.’ But then I remember he is dead. But it was not just Smodej who recorded things. Roman was also involved.” Ana Jud also added in a comment that Roman once asked her to come over to his place, saying that he wants to “watch how Smodej f**ks you.” She, of course, rejected the invite, while many allegedly did not. She also said that she did not know about the drugs and the abuses and that she would keep quiet about this topic from now on.