Death Bed

The Death Bed

Took place in Poul Ingemanns pre-cenotaph building on Dantes Plads in front of Glyptoteket, Copenhagen
Thursday 30 September - Thursday 7 October 2010

Recordings from the funeral in Copenhagen 9th October.

On Dantes Plads in the middle of HC Andersens Boulevard in the centre of Copenhagen a special building created by archictect Poul Ingemann was raised.

The building in which the deathbed took place.

In this building the death bed of Claus Beck-Nielsen and thus death of identities and the state citizen took place.
Thursday 30 September Claus Beck-Nielsen in effigy - an exact representation of Claus Beck-Nielsen in silicone rubber - was placed on the death bed in the building. 

Plaster cast of the dying (stage 2 in the process towards the final and original silicone rubber effigy)

During the next 7 days & nights Claus Beck-Nielsen slowly died in this bed. A nurse was present at the bedside of the dying and once a day a medical doctor came to perform a doctors call and subsequently delivered a bulletin on the current state of the patient.
Daily 11 am - 5 pm the building was open to the public and several thousand world citizens visited the building and payed the dying a last visit.
Thursday 7 October - at the end of the seventh day - the doctor declared the death of the patient, and Friday 8 October the undertakers prepared the dead for the funeral.

The role model of the deathbed is the rituals from the time of the Roman Empire, but they were transformed into contemporary forms and carried out through the technology of our times.



The Colossus among the Greeks & the Funus Imaginarium in ancient Rome


Among the early Greeks, when a man had gone far away and perished without it being possible to bring back the body or carry out the funerary rites for him, his double, his psuché would be compelled to wander and haunt the city or society the man had left behind. In these cases a simple stone was erected and planted in the earth of the uncultivated forest outside the city and thus beyond the world of the living. This colossus would tie the wandering double or ghost of the dead; it would fix it to the ground and bring the haunting to an end.

  Later, during the Roman Empire, before Christ a similar connection of body-object and ritual was used in the cases, where the mortal remains of a dead had been lost or the body - though still alive - no longer belonged to the living, but through an act of initiation had been given to death. Literally: A living dead. It could be a senator or tribune who(se body) had disappeared during a war in remote areas of the Empire. Or it could be a still living senator who was to go to war and who might not return. In these cases a colossus was produced. But whereas colossus used by the early Greeks was just a simple stone, not an image of a certain man, just a representation of his double in dead stone, the colossus or effigy produced by the Romans would be a 1:1-scale representation in wax, a precise representation of the passed-away or living dead. And the ritual connected to this representation was developed into a veritable reality show: The colossus would lie 7 days and nights on a deathbed being treated like a dying: At the side of the colossus nurses were keeping watch, now and then a doctor came to register pulse and blood pressure of the colossus and give it different kinds of medical treatment, and currently bulletins on the state of the colossus were announced in public, and during all 7 days senators and other important men of Rome paid their visit to the colossus.


After the 7 ritual days and nights the doctors declared the death of the colossus. After this the ritual funeral procession followed, and in the end: the burial. A similar ritual was used at the Christian funeral of kings and their "two bodies" during the French and English Middle Ages.


The Funus Imaginarium Building is designed by the Architecht Poul Ingemann and built by Hoffmann A/S in Næstved.
The building was constructed in two parts: the body and the roof-construction. In the night between Sunday 19 and Monday 20 September two huge trucks carried each one of the parts from Næstved to Dantes Place in Copenhagen. Here in the very centre of the metropol the two parts of the more than 4 metres tall building was be assembled in the last hours before dawn.
The building arrives at Dantes Plads
Thursday 30 September around 9:25 in the morning an ambulance arrived at the building and Claus Beck-Nielsen in effigy was carried into the building where two nurses and a doctor recieved the patient and placed him on his death bed.

The Funus Imaginarium Building under construction at Hoffmann A/S in Næstved