The Five Obstructions is a 2003 Danish film by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. In the film, Von Trier gives Leth, his friend and mentor, the task of remaking The Perfect Human — one of Leth’s seminal short films — five times, each time with a different ‘obstruction’, or constraint, given by von Trier. For example, in one obstruction, Leth must remake the film as a cartoon. The film provides a way to look critically at one’s process and to break out of default modes of making.
I used this film as inspiration for The Obstruction Project, where I remake The 50 Card Project 12 times (well not exactly). The number 50 loosely combine things. I celebreated my 50th birthday in October 2019, so my edition size would be 50, I examined events from 1969, and made paper out of my 50 year-old baby diapers, plus lots of other things!
I began in November 2018, as I started my 50th year, and ended in the month of my birthday, October 2019. I used ‘obstructions’, or constraints from family and friends who know my work well, making something that reframed the events occurring in our country at that moment with the statement “liberty and justice for all”as my guiding light. This same sentiment motivated The 50 Card Project, where I made a limited edition letterpress card every week from the 2017 Inauguration Day until the end of the year. In The 50 Card Project, each card was printed with vintage letterpress type, cuts and/or other printing matrixes like linoleum blocks and the occasional polymer plate.
With The Obstruction Project, the resulting creations range from traditional letterpress prints to handmade paper, outdoor sculptures, wall drawings, sculptural objects and more. Most ‘obstructions’ or constraints pushed me out of my letterpress comfort. As a result, some of these items are impossible to edition. For those months, I create companion pieces that complement and extend the experience of the original works sometimes using letterpress, other times creating stickers, and digital prints on rag paper.
The Obstruction Project Book is a spiral bound book consisting of an introduction, 12 sections–one for each month of the challenge, and a colophon. Each section includes the item created, plus the original obstruction and commentary on how I applied it. Books are in production at this moment and will be available in early April 2020.