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The King v. Picariello and Lassandro

The King v. Picariello and Lassandro investigates the real-life story of Filumena “Florence” Lassandro and Emilio Picariello, Italian immigrants who were convicted and hanged in 1923 for the murder of an Alberta Provincial Police officer. Florence Lassandro was one of the last women hanged in Canada. The charges stemmed from the shooting of police officer Stephen Lawson while Lassandro was in the company of Picariello, a charismatic businessman and “rum runner.” They were among many Italian immigrants whose extended families settled in the area near Fernie, British Columbia, and the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta in the early decades of the twentieth century.

This work is composed of drawings based on a variety of sources – archival photographs, family albums, newspaper reports, the capital case files, and film stills. The story is animated through the drawings to create a visual history. The finely drawn black and white images flip from different moments in time, place, and character. Florence Lassandro is represented in one drawing by an image transcribed from her actual photograph, then by Faye Dunaway (Bonnie and Clyde), then Rita Hayworth (The Lady from Shanghai), then Lily Taylor (Household Saints), then Clara Calamai (Ossessione), etc. Emilio Picariello appears as his imposing self, then as Robert de Niro (Godfather II), Rod Steiger (Al Capone), James Cagney (Angels with Dirty Faces), and Jean-Paul Belmondo (Borsalino), etc. History is constructed with subjective interpretations based on fact, fiction, cultural stereotypes, and popular beliefs.

Medium: inkjet prints
Dimensions: digital Prints each 196 x 140 cm (77” x 55”); digital photos: dimensions variable

This work was realized in three formats. The was an installation of large-scale prints, followed by an animated video, and a book in the form of a graphic narrative.

Made with the assistance of Associés libres, Montreal, and Michael Bowie of Lux Photographic Services, Ottawa

The King v. Picariello and Lassandro (book)

The book version of this work was created from the drawings used to make the original digital prints and included additional text by the artist.

The Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies, Department of Italian Studies, University of Toronto, published this work with the support of the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina Public Library, Regina, Saskatchewan. It includes an introduction by Professor Luca Somigli.

Dimensions: 20.3 x 15.2 cm (8” x 6”)

Book Design: Zab Design and Typography

Copies of the book are available through the artist.