With an education in art history and political science, Alexandre Piral is active in the cultural sector mainly as a contemporary art author and mediator. His encounters with publics of different kinds are focused on stimulating exchanges with a concern for accessibility, collective construction of meaning, and engagement in today’s social issues. During his stay in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, in fact, he ran an introductory workshop to cultural trades.
The project that preoccupied Piral for the main part of his residency, however, was a book that he was beginning to write, situated between autobiography and an examination of certain periods in Canadian history, what he calls a “decolonial family narrative” or a “diplomatic story.” His grandfather, who had a career in international relations as a representative of Canada’s interests abroad, was posted to Cuba in the late 1960s and spent time with FLQ members and their families in exile there – an improbable encounter between people with federalist and sovereigntist leanings. The chapter devoted to this period is one that Piral wrote at Est-Nord-Est. Having brought with him a collection of books that his grandparents had brought home from Cuba to use as a primary resource, he also designed and built a bookshelf to hold them in the centre’s workshops, with the assistance of technician Richard Noury.
Piral also has many family members in the region around Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. His stay provided him with an opportunity to spend time with them and draw out their memories and perceptions of the events he was writing about. As he writes in an intimate, situated tone, his desire to question Canada’s imperialism is woven into a narrative that bridges personal story and national history. The navigation between these different registers is one of the fertile challenges that he has had to confront in his writing process.
Alexandre Piral is an author and cultural worker. Born in Paris in 1991, he grew up in Québec and has been living in Montréal for about ten years. He studied political sciences and art history at university. Today, he works in museums and artist-run centres. He’s interested in the history of political struggles in Canada and the world and in the potential of education and mediation as levers for action.