23. ilb 06. - 16.09.2023

Madame Nielsen

The Danish performer, actress, singer, and author Madame Nielsen was born in 1963 in Aarhus and subsequently baptized as Claus Beck-Nielsen. Beck-Nielsen was a guitarist and singer in the Odense band Creme X-Treme from 1984 to 1989, spent time in New York, where he was a member of the performance troupe Wooster Group, was co-director of the 20th Century Ghost theatre, and debuted as an author in 1999 with the novel »Horne Land«.

In 2000 he reduced his name to Claus Nielsen and as a destitute and amnesic man tried to erase his previous life. In 2001, he declared Claus Beck-Nielsen dead. In 2002, the enterprise Das Beckwerk was founded, where he was employed as a »nameless test subject« until 2011.

According to the will of the board, which was comprised of artists, authors, architects, and a judge, he carried out various projects in the areas of performance, video art, concerts, online appearances, as well as political activities [including interventions Iraq and Afghanistan].

Since 2013, the artist goes by the name of Madame Nielsen and lives as a woman and a writer. Madame Nielsen made her literary debut with the novel »Den endeløse sommer« [2014; Eng. »The Endless Summer«, 2018]. The story is told from the perspective of a shy, androgynous boy who moves in with his girlfriend at a Danish estate one summer, where she and her mother are soon joined by two young Portuguese men, one of whom falls in love with the mother.

Madame Nielsen tells the story in a way that is »capable of freeing the ego from rigid identity politics, especially those of body, gender and sexuality« [Deutschlandfunk], in an almost magical, sensual tone with long, sweeping sentences.

This work was followed by the novels »Invasionen« [2016; tr: The Invasion] and »Det højeste væsen« [2017; tr: The Supreme Being], in which the narrator meets a young Romanian ballet dancer who sets herself apart from her troupe on a tour abroad. Her love story, which ends in madness, is interwoven with the story of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Madame Nielsen’s novel »The Monster« [2018] is about a young European man who comes to New York in 1993 with the desire to become the new Willem Dafoe through the legendary Wooster Group performance theater company. In a vision of horror, the perceptions are split between art and life, nightmare and vision, and sex and death.

Her most recent novel, »Lamento« [2020], tells the story of a passionate and ultimately painful love affair between a writer and a theatre producer and the impossibility of reconciling the magic of being in love with everyday life. Madame Nielsen’s novels have won numerous awards.

Date: 2022