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Nr. 39 met Rijst

package designriso printfoodculture identity
Through the years—from day 1 I knew Benjamin Li, he has been always on the way to a Chinese restaurant. He has traveled across the country, to cover all the Chinees-Indische dining places, to take photographs of the dishes that spark the beauty of the most mundane, and to look for the “Nr.39 met Rijst”—one of my favourite artworks which I get always touched & inspired whenever I come back to it. And I couldn’t imagine to be the graphic designer for its puzzle production!⁣

“Nr.39 met Rijst” is a series of photography that Benjamin conducted in the aim of countering the racist statement made by a dutch singer to a Chinese participant on a TV talent show. Benjamin would look for the “number 39 with rice” on the menu, order the dish, eat and photograph it. 194 dishes—have now been included in this enormous, expanding, daring and persistent project. ⁣

⁣ This work is also growing from Benjamin’s fascination to Chinese culinary, as a person with Chinese origin & a family background in Chinese catering, although lives his life in a dutch society & grew up eating “stew with a meatball and chicory”. It is his own exploration in a world that is always calling. The [Chinese-Indonesian restaurant] as an artefact is also a world that not only says a lot about his own identity but also reflects the dutch colonial history. ⁣

⁣ It amazed me to see that “Nr.39 met Rijst” is being (re)produced into puzzles, and how Benjamin combines the activity of playing puzzles with cooking and ageing.⁣

⁣ I resonate with Benjamin’s work. At the same time I admire his ability of turning the mundane into artwork, and turning the artwork back into the mundane. (dishes - artwork - puzzle). The artwork you are seeing now is a hybrid object with all the transcendences. It is a well-designed experience in your hand: when you open the puzzle box, the journey starts…⁣

⁣ Artwork by⁣ Benjamin Li
Supported by MAMA Rotterdamand LAM Mmuseum