Chris Santa Maria

ScarJo is a lyric essay written by Christine Smallwood and Mark Sussman

It was published by Peradam Press in 2015 as a small book in edition of 100

I made six black and white transfer drawings to illustrate the text (excerpt below)

* * *

A star is powerless to efface herself. She is a palimpsest, bringing to each
screen the history of all her roles and occasions. She never disappears
into this or that “character.” A star’s body of work reaches backwards and
forwards in time, always referencing itself. No one can ever say of a star, “I
forgot it was her.”

A star is not a spokesperson, or the subject of a boycott. A star is not tabloid
fodder or biography. A star materializes in the moment of performance. A
star is a body of work.

To those who say the stars have fallen to celebrity, we say: ScarJo.

Scarlett Johansson is a person who speaks words written by someone else
at the behest of someone else. ScarJo is a punctum that evades the pre-or-
dained logic of cinematic expectation. ScarJo is a body that lives on and off
the screen. You know a ScarJo when you see one.

We sit in a car alone with ScarJo, or rather, we sit in a car with ScarJo while
she is alone. Out hunting, she banters with men walking along the road, and
her face shifts from a blank, affectless mask to a cheerful, suggestive smile.
Her cheeks brighten, her eyes sparkle, and as she moves on to more promis-
ing prey she shifts again, her face falling back into a mask. She plays to a
hidden audience. Sitting alone in the car, she is only herself. These moments
of walled-off privacy—cold, threatening—suggest something more vivid
than “character.” They suggest that the viewer, held and riveted, is looking at
a performance of “not performing.” We become a voyeur of the neutral.

* * *