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The Outcast by Attilio Piccirilli

NOTES FOR A DOCUMENTARY FILM - The Outcast, also known as The Forlorn Outcast, L'Emigrato, The Friendless Immigrant, and Pariah, is one of the most potent testimonials of Attilio Piccirilli. This monument is a personal cry created during difficult times when Italian immigration was stigmatized and blamed for the economic crisis of the previous decade, unemployment, and regarded as a threat to American identity. On March 14, 1891, a mob of thousands broke into the jail where eleven Italians were being held for protection and killed each one of them in what is known today as the major mass lynching in US history. In the weeks following the atrocities, mainstream media justified the events, and no charges were brought against the perpetrators. The Outcast created a decade after the massacre, should be considered in this context. It is not a commission work but a personal manifestation of his profound sentiment of alienation.

Sculpture by Attilio Piccirilli at Woodlawn Cementery, NY
The Outcast | Photo by Montes-Bradley

Photographed at Laboratorio Barsanti di Pietrasanta | Private Collection
The Outcast | Montes-Bradley Collection

The Outcast by Attilio Piccirilli

The Friendless Immigrant's head rests between his arms, and he is closely leaning on his knees. The pose reminds us of how airline passengers are told to behave in case of an emergency landing or immediately before a crash. What is the Pariah's blow but loneliness and estrangement? His pain is emotional more than physical. The way his feet touching is almost childish. He seems strong but defeated. He's the Outcast, the Pariah, the alienated. Italy and America are about to break diplomatic relations over the lynching of eleven men in New Orleans. The press seems to find ways to justify the atrocity. The Outcast mirrors in Attilio Piccirilli the struggle between the Italian he was and the American he wanted to become. I twist of irony is added when we learn that The Outcast watches over the grave of Nathan Piccirilli, Orazio's son and Attilio's dearest nephew who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War II.

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