Claus Beck-Nielsen (1963-2001)



The story about a human being or the life of a human being is just one out of countless possible stories about this particular human being and its life. And none of these stories is the truth. Neither a life nor a human being is a story. The story of a human being is always a myth. This applies to the grand scale biographies like Solal’s biography of Jean-Paul Sartre as well as to the small facts and “truths”, which everyman tells every day when asked the fundamental human question: Who are you?


Even though Claus Beck-Nielsen seems to have been just an ordinary man, one out of billions, there are countless versions of the story or myth about him. There is even an authorized biography, Claus Beck-Nielsen (1963-2001) – A Biography, published in 2003 by the Danish publishing house Gyldendal.


According to the Biography, Claus Beck-Nielsen’s life and mind was the life and mind of a troubled being; and it even contained that fatal moment, which all grand lives contain: a moment that will lead to either the eternal hall of fame or straight out into the dark, disappearance, death. On the book jacket of the Biography, this fatal moment is presented:


“One day in December 2000, author Claus Beck-Nielsen took the distinctive “Beck-” out of his name; he left his apartment, wife and child and went out onto the street as Claus Nielsen, a man without an identity card. It was the beginning of a personal and family tragedy.”


This tragedy of Claus Beck-Nielsen has been the subject of hundreds of interpretations and academic dissertations, each of which is the beginning of yet another story or myth. And none of these stories or myths is the truth.


The question is: Is it at all possible to answer that basic human question: Who was Claus Beck-Nielsen?


According to Wikipedia – the world’s democratic encyclopedia, the regime of the mediocre, where everything and every phenomenon is normalized by consensus – Claus Beck-Nielsen was (if we use the in-human “Google translate” to translate the Danish text into English):


“a Danish playwright, actor, musician and writer. Claus Beck-Nielsen spent his childhood and youth in Aarhus, Barrels, Aalborg, Odense, Vestbirk and Høsterkøb. In the late 1980s (1984-89) he was a guitarist and singer in the Odense band Creme X-Treme.”


According to Wikipedia the life and death of Claus Beck-Nielsen led to the establishment of a company, and will sooner or later end as a cinema movie:


“In 2002 established company Das Beckwerk for management and continuation Claus Beck-Nielsen’s Life & Work. The company had in the period 2002-06 is housed in puddings, but moved first July 2006 to central Copenhagen. The company produces fiction, one-man shows, photographs, installations, political activities, concerts, video art, web activities and more. This arrangement seems to be in harmony with the fact that Gyldendal in 2003 released Claus Beck-Nielsen (1963-2001), a biography, whose design means that the cinema ready writer died the 2,001th”


According to the homepage of Das Beckwerk – the enterprise that for ten years served the “management and continuation Claus Beck-Nielsen’s Life & Work” – the significant thing about Claus Beck-Nielsen was his mediocrity:


“Claus Beck-Nielsen was typical for his time, for his culture. The Danish. The average man. The wannabe. The only real deed that Claus Beck-Nielsen carried out in his lifetime was to marry a woman. And the only real trace he left in the Danish sand was a child, a beautiful little girl named Emma. But as his story is that of the average Danish man around the turn of the century, his marriage failed, he lost his child (to the woman), and in the autumn of 2001 he “gik bort” as the Danish say, he didn’t just pass away, no, he literally seem to have “walked off”.


In 2011 – exactly ten years after his death or disappearance – Claus Beck-Nielsen published the novel Jeg taler til jer (I am speaking to You); a book that was slated by the critics and refused by Das Beckwerk Museum as a none-authentical work of Claus Beck-Nielsen. Nevertheless the novel turned the question “Who was Claus Beck-Nielsen” into the present “Who is Claus Beck-Nielsen?” And this question in the present tense gave rise to another wave of stories and myths and speculations about the truth of Claus Beck-Nielsen.


In the end there is no answer; only the question remains:


Who was and is Claus Beck-Nielsen?



Claus Beck-Nielsen: Jeg taler til jer/I am speaking to You (2011)