João Canziani – Canadian Café Bar

I was introduced to João Canziani by Emiliano Granado. We met up for coffee a few months ago to talk about photography and during our conversation he told me about a new project he’d been working on about his homeland of Peru. Over the course of the next couple of months we talked regularly about the project and eventually developed a plan for how it’d be rolled on the web.

We both thought it’d be interesting to introduce the project over a series of blog posts that would give a bit of back ground on how the project was conceived and created.

Joao has wrapped up the posts and has recently launched a standalone website for the project in anticipation of an exhibition at La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa, Canada, which opens on September 9th, running to September 22nd.

For a few Peruvian “soles” the girls of Canadian Café Bar will talk to you, flirt with you, make you feel special. This is how it works: You buy them a drink and they’ll sit with you. Buy them a few and they’ll spend the whole night with you. But they won’t sleep with you, although some men have tried, and probably gotten away with it.

I met one of the girls after stumbling upon a “sexy calendar” photo shoot she was posing for at a beach in Lima. I asked her if I could shoot her sometime. She said, sure. I naively thought she would be eager to do it. Instead it took a bit of negotiating. I had to pay her. She took it seriously though, and offered to do whatever I wanted while we were together.

She worked at the bar for the same reason she posed for me, to pay for her school. Most of these girls didn’t do it for pleasure, but out of necessity: To survive in the big city after moving here from the Amazon, for instance; or to feed a child out of wedlock. These women came from humble origins, unlike the girls I grew up with before I moved away.

I left Lima, Peru when I was barely a teenager. My latent curiosity for the opposite sex to be satisfied somewhere new. These portraits are an attempt to revisit this curiosity. I too wanted to see how it felt to be in the company of these women, by making a connection through the act of photography. I discovered this brought me closer to a place I call my home.


Photographs ©João Canziani

  • Joe

    *you (not “you’re”)

  • Joe (formerly Icon Joe)

    So glad you met up with Joao. You’re both have great ideas.

  • Maya

    Joao, congratulations on your latest project. I enjoy the rarity of the window into these ladies lives. Thank you for sharing.