Chen Jhen

Amsterdam Lunch

The Instruction of Being The Other

This small book is a report on a re-enactment project by Taiwanese designer Chen Jhen, recalling her attempts to assimilate into Dutch culture at the lunch table of an Amsterdam design agency. Desperate, she secretly jots down very precise notes on the – for her unfathomable – way the other people around the table are eating and behaving. These notes then form the script for a performance of this observed ‘lunch table behaviour’. The book is a written-out version of the performance: her reworked notes, descriptions of actions spread across the pages (‘chewing – chewing – scooping some salad with fork’) and photos of gestures and plates of food. Using a visible screen works like a translation of the process of zooming in on the details observed. Chen dissects table manners like an anthropologist, resulting in a surprising, at times rather embarrassing but also hilarious reflection on Dutch ‘lunch table culture’. As we have seen several times this year, creative use is made of transparent paper: for example in the title and subtitle, printed in sections on the next and even the following page – so ‘being the other’ is literally consigned to another page. The whole book is printed in the shades of brown you get when you mash up bread with peanut butter and chocolate paste.

Edition: 2019
Release date: March 2019
Language: English / Chinese
Picture editor: Chen Jhen
Artist: Chen Jhen
Publisher / commissioner: Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
Available through:
Designer: Chen Jhen (Maastricht)
Lithographer: Chen Jhen; Charles Nypels Lab, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
Printer: Chen Jhen; Charles Nypels Lab, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
Binder: Chen Jhen; Charles Nypels Lab, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
Dimensions: 120 x 190 x 8
Amount of pages: 192
Number of copies: 100
Price: € 38
ISBN: 978 90 72076 98 4
Font and foundry: Lyon (Commercial Type), Ceremony (Optimo), Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk (Berthold Type Foundry)
Binding style: Unsewn soft cover
Paper interior: 60gsm IBO One, Igepa
Cover material: 200gsm Fuego® Matt Natural, Papyrus
Other technical features: Risography