Riccardo Previdi

The Bubble Boy (Needs a Hug) 
September 19 - October 27, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, at 6:00 pm, Quartz Studio is pleased to present The Bubble Boy (Needs a Hug), the first solo show by Riccardo Previdi (Milan, 1974) in Turin. The curator, Lisa Andreani, writes that David Vetter was born in 1971 in Houston with a severe genetic immune deficiency that meant he could not have contact with the world around him. David lived in a plastic bubble to protect him from all contagions and soon became a celebrity. Photographers, TV shows, and directors translated his dramatic story into pictures, movies with famous actors, such as John Travolta, and in ironic, off-the-wall TV episodes like Seinfeld. Vetter's capsule was both a media event and, in the word's Jean Baudrillard, a prefigurement of a vacuum-sealed future, heralding an advancing world that relies ever more on technology for our defense. 
The capsule goes from being a "vacuum-pressing" machine, a science-fiction world of bacteria and frozen food, and becomes a "habitable place," whose radiant geodesic beauty allows no other solution. 
Made to be impenetrable, the membrane becomes a flash point in which transparency negates the sense of invasion and the possibility of touch, and the screen/barrier isolates while determining behavior. 
The case of the Bubble Boy and the historical eclecticism of the bubble's use initiates a circular process that goes through the last thirty years. The artist puts this process in motion like yet another test in which an inert, passive, yet functioning body will underscore a constant reliance on the bubble's protection. This leaves a question: what is left of this "container" today? Do we still need something like it? 
As in What’s Next?, the artist's recent solo exhibition at Villa Croce in Genoa (2017), The Bubble Boy (Needs a Hug) is an open scene in which the insurmountable need for affection of the figure wrapped in the plastic bubble invites us to think about the gestation of participation. It preserves and protects, yet paradoxically, it is born of a shared feeling, that of a need for inclusiveness, but that requires everyone's solitude before their own screens. 
The historical artifice that returns to David Vetter and his bubble creates a place, a non-site-specific space, that generates an ideological detachment, that of an already exhausted aesthetic, to tell us that this child ultimately needs and gives a hug. By giving us the hug that he asks of us, The Bubble Boy never stops making us participants in a common lack and concern for ever-more uncertain states of physical and mental health. 

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