Who? Kaka, former pixadora
Where? Somewhere in Rio…
When? August 2010
The fact is, when you do over 20 interviews in 10 days (in another language in a foreign country), you lose track of small details like…location. No? Well I do. I remember visceral responses to places and people, overall impressions—not addresses. In order to meet up with the now-retired pixadora Kaka, Anarkia and I had to hop on a few buses and truck through the city. You see, Kaka had no cell phone, so we set out to find her hoping that, but not knowing if, we would succeed.
Just as the sun was setting, Anarkia announced that we had arrived. We had tracked her down to a tiny booth in a seemingly infinite public market where she was working. Surrounded by people selling all matter of wares and food, we sat on a bench and chit chatted about her involvement with pixação (if you don’t remember what pixação is, check out my interview with Free). Kaka was kind enough to share her story with me despite the fact that she had stopped painting because of her renewed relationship with the church. As you’ll see when you finish reading the interview, it’s not the most “pro-graffiti” or “pro pixação” story, but I include it (even if it doesn’t line up with my desires and politics) anyway. She took a break from work to talk with me—a stranger who doesn’t even speak her language—and it is important to value her act. Our conversation was short and a little like pulling teeth that aren’t yet ready to go. She had no pictures with her and gave no email address…so following up with her or even sharing this post is impossible. I think the image at the bottom is hers. It’s the only mysterious tag in my blackbook so I’m guessing yes. No matter what Kaka is doing now, and the experiences that made her choose to stop painting, at one point she was a very well known pixadora who got up with the kind of fervor and voraciousness that made people jealous…and that is worth remembering.
JESS: Ok, so first could you just tell me how you started doing pixação, what year you started, what your tag name is and stuff like that?
KAKA: My name is Kaka. I started in 2006 because of my friends at school.
JESS: How long did you do it for?
KAKA: I started in 2006 and stopped in 2008 because I became part of the church.
JESS: Can you tell me a little bit about your experiences doing pixação? How did it make you feel? Why did you start doing it?
KAKA: It is a feeling like nothing on earth. I didn’t have any friends at home and pixação was a way to begin doing something with my life, to be someone, to do something that comes from inside of me.
JESS: Did you do it by yourself or with other people?
KAKA: I began to do it alone and then I began to do it with other people.
JESS: What is feminism to you?
KAKA: I am not a feminist, but I want to be.
JESS: Why do you want to be a feminist?
KAKA: I want to do lots of things, but as a girl I can’t do them. Like, I am anxious to make something of my life, and I’m afraid of things. I want to be a feminist about things that I want, but I’m hesitant.
JESS: Do you miss doing pixação?
JESS: Even if it were with a group with other women?
KAKA: I don’t want to make pixação anymore because it is illegal, and I am in the church. I have changed.
JESS: But what about graffiti? And I ask because it sounds like you would have the drive to do it.
KAKA: I don’t know how to draw.
JESS: But you can learn! What do you think about women doing graffiti and pixação?
KAKA: People know what they want to do in their life. Even if it’s a girl or if it’s a man, they can do whatever they want.
JESS: Ok. I have questions that have to do with identity. When you were active did you feel that your work was a part of your identity? Like you were trying to communicate something about your identity to other people.
KAKA: I liked writing my name everywhere.
JESS: And what did you like about writing your name everywhere?
KAKA: It was cool!
JESS: Haha, yes it is cool. Do you have any stories about a particular spot that you got that was a good spot? Or did you ever have to run from the police?
KAKA: I don’t remember, but I went to a place very far with my pastor, the pastor of my church, and I was walking the streets and I saw lots of my name.
JESS: Were you embarrassed or did you think it was funny? Did you like it?
KAKA: All of these things at the same time!
JESS: Did you teach any other girls how to do pixação?
KAKA: No, I went tagging with other girls, but I didn’t teach anyone. Pixação you really don’t teach, you just do it.
JESS: Yea, but I think that if a new girl wanted to learn how to do it she might ask you, as a mentor.
KAKA: No, because the girls prefer to go with the boys for protection. But for example, if there were a group of girls like Anarkia and myself I would be doing it all the time. But if there were girls that I didn’t like, then I wouldn’t be doing it!
JESS: I have questions about the physical strains of pixação: are there body limitations for women? When you went out, did you have to dress like a boy? Can you talk a little bit about how you prepared to go out at night, being a woman?
KAKA: About the clothes, I put on my own clothes, the same clothes that I wear everyday. And about the body, it’s not really a problem because the boys would help me.
JESS: Oh good, so you had support. What did your friends and family think of you when you were painting?
KAKA: The boys liked it, and they helped.
JESS: Oh that’s good because usually I hear the opposite: that the boys don’t want to help.
KAKA: No, here the boys help us.
JESS: Is there anything else that you want to say about pixação? Because you know that I’m writing a book, and that other girls will be reading it. So is there anything that you want to say to them to help them put their name out?
KAKA: Just one thing that I want to say is not to have the same experience that I had in my life. Don’t do it. Don’t do pixação because the people are not good. You don’t have true friends, and you lose friends and family. Everything that I had I lost.