A Slideluck Potshow London/DEVELOP Tube creative collaboration - War and Peace by Melissa Cacciola: Throughout history, portraiture offers us an archeological snapshot of how we view ourselves and others: artists engraved the faces of our early rulers on coins and painted their beloved on ivory miniatures. Tintype portraiture dates back to the Civil War and is one of the earliest photographic processes in history. Its special place in military portraiture began when Matthew Brady brought his photographic darkroom to the battlefield to document the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. With the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War, and the tenth year marking the attacks on September 11th, 2001, this is a time for reflection and history.

Tintyping brings great significance to the current portrait project, War and Peace, which presents forty-six tintype portraits of active duty military and veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines as a kind of confessional before the camera. Fourteen men and nine women of various backgrounds, ages, and roles in the armed forces have been photographed in uniform and civilian attire in an exploration of war, identity, and what serving in the armed forces means. These double portraits contrast each individual and his or her role in the military against his or her identity in a contemporary world that is constantly shifting culturally and politically. A chef, an infantry rifleman, an explosive ordinance device disabler, and a fuel carrier are just a few of the diverse individuals represented. Through the photographic lens, we can study just how the airman in his dress blues relates to the man in the Guns N’ Roses t-shirt.

The unique medium of the tintype celebrates our individuality in the age of digital photography. As we are accosted by multiples of images, there is a growing feeling that images lose their sense of permanence or uniqueness. Photographs are no longer created by a chemical interaction between light and silver, but with pixilation and computers whose software is engineered to erase our scars and correct anything ordained to be a flaw. War and Peace makes visible the present-day faces of those in service, a cross-section of our society that we may not often have the chance to see. Through the tintype, our humanity—epic and small—becomes transfixed by the intrinsic characteristics of one of the earliest photographic processes in our history.


Melissa Cacciola studied fine art and the historic preservation of art at Columbia University and New York University. Trained by the legendary John Coffer, Cacciola specializes in tintype and nineteenth-century photographic processes.  Through portraiture, her work offers an archaeological snapshot of how we view ourselves and others against the digital era. Original, unreplicated, and solitary, these images rebel against the notion of art in the age of electronic reproduction. Our flaws, changes in mood, the interchangeability of who we are, become transfixed by the intrinsic characteristics of this historic process. The incredible palpability of each wrinkle, freckle, and hair oscillates with an uncanny presence within these images, haunting us as specters of our imagination, nostalgia, and the past.

Chemical Chimera, her previous solo show at the Soho Photo Gallery, focused on the inter-connections between a community of artists. Her work can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, as well as prominent, private collections. Melissa works primarily in New York City and has shot portraits for musicians, dancers, and artists, as well as private portrait commissions. 

As part of a creative collaboration between Slideluck Potshow London and DEVELOP Tube, Erica McDonald has made a selection of the stories presented in London in the 2012 SLPS edition, to be spotlighted on DEVELOP Tube. The artists selected are: Alexander Sedelnikov, Cristina de Middel, Luca Sage, Melissa Cacciola, Paul S. Amundsen, Pierfrancesco Celada, Kirsty Mackay, Claudia Mozzillo, Alvaro Laiz.

Slideluck Potshow (SLPS) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to building and strengthening community through food and art. SLPS operates multimedia slideshows combined with potluck dinners in about fifty cities around the world. slideluckpotshow.com/

SLPS London on Facebook: facebook.com/SLIDELUCKPOTSHOWlondon and on Twitter: @SLPSlondon
DEVELOP Photo on Twitter: @DEVELOPphoto

This album is part of the DEVELOP Tube Channel which can be found at vimeo.com/channels/developphoto. DEVELOP Tube is an educational resource which features interviews, profiles, lectures & films about photojournalism, fine art photography & documentary photography.

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