What could be simpler than a bubble, a thin little floating membrane, the symbol of an innocent, trouble-free childhood? But it is said that one cannot live in a bubble—it’s right there in the definition: “a good or fortunate situation that is isolated from reality or unlikely to last.” In this jagged world, bubbles burst.
A Bubble, the artist and musician Geneviève Castrée’s posthumously published last work, is, in essence, a children’s board book. It begins with the caption “Maman lives in a bubble,” above a drawing of a little blond child in cat-face knee socks gazing at her mother, who floats in the titular sphere. “I love you very much,” the mother says, her freckled face anxious, her choppy hair concealed under a beanie hat. She may be unwell, sick. Indeed, the next page confirms it, the mother has been ill for some time: “It has been a while now. I no longer remember the time when she didn’t live in the bubble, I was too little.” The mother works on projects in her bubble: embroidery, reading, crafting, drawing. She gets sicker and sicker, her illness progresses, her hair thins, she starts wearing a cannula, she is connected to a tank. She cannot leave her bubble, but sometimes the little girl joins her in it. They eat breakfast together (“She doesn’t mind if I make crumbs with my toast”), nap (“a special time for Maman and me”), make art (“I draw with her, it brings her great joy”). When she goes on excursions with Papa, the little girl makes sure to tell Maman about her adventures. The bubble separates them but cannot keep them apart. One day, the bubble ruptures, Maman washes out, disoriented at first, but overwhelmingly happy, and she kisses her little girl a thousand times, invites her for an ice cream cone. “I say yes!” the child reports contentedly, and the two walk off together, holding hands, free of the bubble at last, absorbed in each other. Read More