In the collection: Forty Nr. 39

In the collection: Forty Nr. 39

Benjamin Li maakt een foto van een gerecht

Rotterdam artist Benjamin Li travels all over the Netherlands by train with his folding bike to visit Chinese restaurants. For his work Forty Nr. 39 (2014-2016), a light box 110 centimetres high, he visited 40 different restaurants. Once there, he always ordered and photographed number 39 on the menu.

“I made Forty Nr. 39 in response to a stigmatising comment made to a Chinese contestant by Gordon, a judge on the TV show Holland’s Got Talent. He said, “Are you going to sing number 39?” As an artist, I have the opportunity to draw attention to things that affect me. Gordon used that number as an insult, but I wanted to grasp it to showcase the dishes.”

Forty Nr. 39 shows us all kinds of dishes and cuisines, including Chinese-Indonesian, Dim sum and Chinese-Surinamese. The work is a sharp and playful answer to Gordon’s question, but mainly an ode to Chinese food culture in the Netherlands.

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“Food is very important in our existence, and in our behaviour. We are very attached to how something tastes, how it smells, how it feels, the structure.”
- Benjamin Li

FENIX 2025

After the opening, in FENIX you will find contemporary art, photography and historical objects. The collection tells stories about the movement of people around the world. Stories from yesterday, today and tomorrow.